Outlander Photo Recap 113, “The Watch”

Last time we saw our heroes, Claire was being complimented by a dude holding a gun to her husband’s head. Ups and downs. Just another day in Outlandertown (motto: If no one’s hurt or dead, wait a minute).

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Jamie quietly goads the Ginger of Christmas Future by turning to look down the barrel of his pistol and warning him that if he by some chance misfires, Jamie will shove the pistol “down his gullet.”

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Claire, who speaks fluent testosterone, runs down the stairs as she sees the older man raise his pistol to her husband’s forehead and reply that “there is only one way to find out.” Sounds like someone needs an anatomy lesson!

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Upon arriving downstairs, Claire locks eyes with Jenny, who has come around the corner. The pregnant woman’s face registers brief alarm, and then she strides confidently into the room, calling the gunman “Taran” and chiding him to put his gun down because JENNY MURRAY, SON.

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He seems to know her, and mentions he caught “this scoundrel” in her house. Jenny laughs and says that it is no scoundrel, but her cousin, Jamie. Jamie introduces himself as Jamie MacTavish, and Taran puts his gun down and excuses himself, saying he’s never laid eyes on Jamie before.

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Jenny walks over and explains that he just showed up one day, wife in tow, for a visit. At this, Claire steps forward and says that Jenny and Ian did not know they were married, and that it was a surprise. This causes one of the men in Taran’s group to exclaim at her being a Sassenach, but once again Jenny steps in.

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She says she almost took a gun to Jamie herself when she found out, but that she has gotten to know Claire, a decent woman whose “Englishness they don’t mind so much anymore.” Taran grins, sketches a bow to Claire and introduces himself formally as Taran McQuarrie, leader of the local Watch, who intervened because he thought Jamie was robbing the place.

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Jenny says sarcastically that they like to leave the robbing to him, and McQuarrie laughs as he pours himself some wine. Into this barely polite scene walks Ian, smiling and saying he didn’t expect him until next month. MacQuarrie says he was pining for Jenny’s rabbit stew, and Ian helpfully supplies that he took his sword to the smithy for him and had it polished.

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Jamie looks on incredulously as Ian seems to cater to the man who only moments ago, held a gun to his head. McQuarrie compliments the work on the sword, seated on a chair with everyone else standing. Though he thanks Ian for his trouble, he immediately segued into a comment about his stomach growling, and tells Jenny to put supper on.

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She, straining to hold her tongue, replies only that everyone knows their way to the dining room and leaves, Jamie hot on her trail and visibly seething.

Both couples meet to speak in the kitchen, as Jenny runs around trying to make supper. Jamie asks why she would invite The Watch into their home, and she snaps for him to be quiet, that it isn’t as if they had a choice. Ian says McQuarrie is a decent fellow, and it’s only for a couple of days.

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Jamie hisses that maybe along with fixing his sword, Ian would also like to polish his boots. Ian reasons that he only did the man a favor, but Jamie speaks directly to his sister. He reminds her that The Watch are criminals, but Ian interjects that the money they pay protects them from the Redcoats and other raiding clans. The Watch looks out for them, and their tenants.

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Jamie ignores him, speaking directly to Jenny, who quietly chops leeks and doesn’t look at him. “What about the price on my head?” He points out that they would turn him over to the redcoats in a second for the reward. Jenny calls him “cousin” and says that is why they will feed them, give them a place to sleep, and Jamie should keep his wits about him until they have moved on. Jamie is obviously not in agreement, but he has nothing to say.

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Claire asks how often the men come around, and Jenny responds that every few months for almost two years. “I never would have agreed to this,” Jamie whispers angrily. Jenny ignores him the way you’d ignore a toddler taking his socks off in public.

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Finally, he sets his sister off. “But you weren’t here, were you Jamie MacTavish?” she practically shouts at him. Claire hisses at them to keep their voices down lest they be overheard.

The siblings stare at each other a moment longer and first Jamie, then Jenny look away. The tension among all four is high.

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Jamie stares sullenly at Jenny as she chops, and Ian deliberately walks into his sight line and gently asks if he doesn’t think if the situation hasn’t taken its toll on the two of them. He then assures them it has, but it was their burden to bear, and if he has a better idea, he’d like to hear it.

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Chagrin registers briefly on both Claire and Jamie’s faces, but any apology is waylaid when Jenny bends over, clutching her belly in pain. Jenny snaps at her brother’s obvious question of “Is it the bairn?”, and Claire gently urges Jamie to listen to his sister, “tread lightly, and don’t provoke them.”

That evening at dinner, MacQuarrie sits at the head of the table as his men complain about being served the second-shelf liquor. Jenny dryly shrugs off his comment that she hides the best liquor and tobacco when they come, while Jamie does the opposite of treading lightly, glaring mutinously at the wall.

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MacQuarrie notices that he is being quiet, and asks him where he’s from. When Jamie answers in the Gaelic for the Outer Hebrides, the older man points out that he doesn’t sound like an islander. Claire quickly interjects that he spent some time in France, fighting in the French army with Ian, and likely that influenced his accent.

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MacQuarrie takes this bit of information quite genially, revealing that he too fought alongside the french in Austria, and asks Jamie if he was in Spain with Ian. “Aye, the border, mostly,” he responds, and Ian elaborates that they were separated in battle and he thought Jamie had died on the field. “That was Silesia, in ‘40,” Jamie says gravely, “He spent the next three weeks convalescing in a brothel.”

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This little joke goes over well with everyone except Jenny, who stares coolly at her husband while he rushes to clarify that it was a hospital, not a brothel. MacQuarrie laugh, and tells the table that he was in Silesia in ‘42, storming Prague. He raises his glass in a French toast, which both Jamie and Ian echo.

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Claire translates it as “Never be taken alive,” and compliments it as daring. MacQuarrie, no happily talks of the excitement of dashing at your enemy after the first volley, before they have a chance to reload. Jamie points out with a grin that a sword to the head puts a quick end to a second attack, and MacQuarrie smiles, calling him “an old colleague.”

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His affability is a front, however, for a ruse meant to draw out the truth about Jamie. MacQuarrie reveals his curiosity that he has traded a lot of army stories with Ian, but he has not once mentioned MacTavish. Ian smiles apologetically and assures him he must have. MacQuarrie’s face hardens a bit as he insists he is sure he didn’t. Jenny attempts dry humor again, pointing out that if MacQuarrie wasn’t so deep into drink he might remember.

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Once again her wit makes the leader laugh, and he stands to offer a toast. “Here’s to a long life, and a merry one, a quick death, and an easy one, [to Jenny] a pretty girl, and an honest one, a stiff whiskey, and another one.” They all toast, and one of the men puts his horse-poo feet up on the table.

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Claire notices this, as does MacQuarrie, and she casually asks how long they are staying. He replies that a few days, pushes the mans’ feet off, then addresses Ian, saying that he has a few more men coming tomorrow, as they are planning something big. He then turns to Jamie and says he will tell him about it the next day, if he should be interested.

Jamie makes no comment, and MacQuarrie goes on, telling Ian that one of his horses has turned up lame and he will need to see the smithy to get him shod. Jamie offers to look at the animal, since he is good with horses and he “wouldn’t want anything to keep them from their travels.” MacQuarrie grins, toasts Jenny’s cooking and exits with his men to sleep in the barn.

The next day, Jamie leads the lame horse out to the forge and notices some of the Watch men standing about, one of whom is smoking Ian’s tobacco near a wagon filled with hay.

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The man comments on the quality of the tobacco, and Jamie’s sulky response is that it is “too fine for the likes” of him. The man hears him and takes visible offense. While Jamie tends to an abscess on the horse’s hoof receives a rude answer to asking when he was last shod, the man empties his pipe into the wagon and blows on it to start the fire going.

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He shouts “FIRE!” and laughs uproariously as Jamie shoves his way to the hay, calling in Gaelic for his clansmen to help him douse the fire. MacQuarrie’s men stand around laughing at the Fraser’s efforts, shouting and mocking them. Once the fire is put out, Jamie rushes at the men, telling them that they have been taken in, fed and sheltered, and they might want to show some gratitude.

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The man who smoked the pipe takes out his gun and points it at Jamie’s head, saying that he might want to remember who has the pistol. He laughs as Jamie backs away in seeming fear, only to grab the heavy iron pliers and take a swing at his head, knocking him out. One by one he fights the other men, holding his own against them admirably.

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He’s got the last one held at gunpoint when MacQuarrie walks in upon the scene and orders his men to stand down. He walks right to Jamie, pushing his gun away from his man’s head, and tells his man to get out of there. MacQuarrie then turns to Jamie and apologizes for the “stramash,” which I am pretty sure is a kind of scandalous potato.

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He says his men are “good lads, just a wee bit coarse,” and that he is trying to school them since they did not benefit as he and Jamie did from the army. Jamie wishes him good luck and walks away, but MacQuarrie tells him he could use a man like him. “Not just a bonnie fighter…a warrior.” Jamie takes a deep breath and looks down at the gun he is holding, finally turning it over. “I’ve done enough fighting in my life. I’m settled now.”

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MacQuarrie tells him to let him know if he ever changes his mind, but Jamie walks away, calling the dogs to him as he goes through the arch to check on new arrivals. The rest of MacQuarrie’s men have arrived, along with one unfortunate addition: Horrocks, the English deserter who extorted Jamie back in 109 for information that ultimately revealed that Black Jack Randall shot the man Jamie was imprisoned for killing.

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Horrocks obviously recognizes Jamie as well, but when MacQuarrie asks him about it, he responds that he thought so, but all Scots look alike to him. MacQuarrie can tell he is lying, but lets it go and invites him in for a drink.

Later in the study, Jamie tells Claire about Horrock’s arrival, and she worries that he knows about the price on his head. Jamie agrees, pointing out that a traitor to the British who has no compunction robbing and killing Scots won’t stay quiet for long. Lost in regret, he tells Claire that he thought Lallybroch was the one place they would be safe, and that he should have never come back.

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Claire tells him not to say that, and rushes to him to look earnestly at him while pledging her allegiance to the republic of Jamie Fraser. “Whatever happens, we’ll handle it. No matter the cost.”

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While walking reaaally slowly through the house in total view of men who are professional mercenaries, Jamie overhears Horrocks tell MacQuarrie of a plan to lift the Chisolm’s rents from them by ambushing them at a bridge on the border with Fraser lands, one day’s ride away.

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No one sees him. NO ONE.

Outside, Jenny and Claire do some laundry and hold on a second I can’t concentrate because wee Jamie is being adorable and literally has to be carried out of the scene because his mom is like “No one will listen to Claire and I if this kid stays because they’ll be busy falling in love with his tiny vest”.

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Also: carrying children about like logs is THE BEST.

Basically Jenny tells Mrs. Crook to take wee Jamie because she is fantasizing about the things all mothers do, namely doing chores without stepping on a child and using the privy alone. This leads to her saying that soon Jamie will have a brother to play with, and Claire asks her how she knows the new baby is a boy.

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Jenny lists the fact that she’s had no morning sickness, a taste for salty food, and that she is carrying low, all things that she experienced with wee Jamie and that make her sure the child is a boy. She asks Claire if she has siblings, and Claire answers that she is an only child.

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Jenny remarks that it is good for a man to have a brother, and that Jamie was only eight when they lost their brother Willie to smallpox. Claire tells her that Jamie thinks of Ian like a brother, and Jenny agrees. “The two of them were like one after Willie died, especially in a fight,” Jenny explains, recalling that Ian’s father used to tell his son that his job was to guard his chief’s weaker side, and he did.

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“When Jamie and Ian stood shoulder to shoulder, there was no one could take the pair of them down,” Jenny tells Claire, and the two women share a smile right before Jenny bends over with a gasp of pain. Claire rushes to her, asking what’s wrong, but a quick pan of the camera downwards answers for us even as Jenny confirms her water’s broken.

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Her labor has commenced.

Once Jenny is inside and in her bed, Claire palpates her belly and informs her that the baby is breech (or as Jenny calls it, “a footling”) and that they will have to attempt to turn him. She answers Jenny’s question about whether or not she knows about babies with a succinct “I’ve seen childbirth,” as she attempts to turn a baby with nothing but theory and brute strength like a freaking wizard.

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NEVER CHANGE, CLAIRE, you bold human grenade.

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Jenny asks if she has never been with child herself, and Claire answers that she hasn’t, which Jenny takes as an opening to regale her with Granny McNab’s recipes for fertility, which include raspberry leaf and rose hip tea drunk when the moon is waxing and lady’s mantle with “a bit of raw egg beaten up in it.” It’s hard to know if Claire’s distressed expression is due to her effort or a reaction to this take on infertility treatment.

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Jenny watches her tense face and discerns that she is unable to turn the baby, and Jenny jokes that “He’s determined to land on his feet.” Claire returns her humor a bit shakily, saying that the baby is stubborn and has Fraser in him for sure. Claire offers to go get Ian and tell him what is happening, but Jenny says she will not say anything to him about it, and neither will Claire.

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“No point worrying the man,” she says with conviction, and instructs her only to say that the baby is coming.

Downstairs, Jamie discovers Horrocks looking through the study, and both men recognize that the time has come to talk, and Jamie shuts the door. Horrocks gestures around him and asks if all of it is Jamie’s. Jamie doesn’t answer, but Horrocks laughs and says he saw the name “Fraser’ carved on the lintel.

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His next question is to ask who Jenny is to him, but Jamie’s only answer is a glare. Horrocks then says he doesn’t have to tell him, but points out that both Jenny and his bride, Claire are bonny. “They speak about the luck o’the Irish, but you, Jamie Fraser, you’re the lucky man.” Jamie’s patience gives out, and he asks point-blank what he wants.

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The answer is money for his passage to the colonies, Boston specifically. Jamie points out that he’ll have plenty after the raid he has planned, but Horrocks says that is only a start, since the money will have to be split with MacQuarrie’s men. He posits Jamie might be willing to help him, sure as he is helping Jamie by keeping his mouth shut, and swears that if he pays him, he won’t see his face again.

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Jamie asks how much.

Upstairs, Jenny is pacing and tells Claire she has felt the baby drop. Since all they have left to do is wait, Claire asks Jenny what it’s like to be pregnant. Jenny snaps back that it’s “no romp in the heather,” if she can’t tell by her face, but Claire insists.

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What follows is a sometimes blunt, enchantingly poetic description of the highs and lows of manufacturing people and the meaning of it all. The longer, full version of it is one of my favorite passages in any of the books. As Jenny speaks, she paces, sometimes pausing for a contraction while Claire listens.

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Claire smiles gently and somewhat sadly at her sister-in-law when she is interrupted by Mrs. Crook, who tells the women that the midwife will not be coming as she was called away to tend to a sick relative. Claire dismisses her and she and Jenny share a meaningful look before she assures her sister-in-law that it is possible to deliver a breech baby.

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Claire tells her she will have to reach inside and guide it out. Jenny accepts this news with a nod, and tells Claire to fetch her a dram before they start. Claire points out that if she does, the baby would likely be drunk as well. Jenny snaps that “then he’ll come into the world a true Scot.”

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Claire smiles and leaves to fetch the drink.

Out in the courtyard, Jamie and Ian repair the hay wagon that burnt in the fire, and Ian chastises Jamie for provoking MacQuarrie’s men. Jamie angrily points out that they burnt the hay that they needed for the winter, and questions if he wants him to just turn the other cheek. Ian replies, “That’s why you’ve got two cheeks, ye limmer.” Jamie replies that Jenny hates them, and he can’t figure out why Ian doesn’t.  Jamie’s been on the defensive so long, he really does see people as friends or potential threats.

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Ian explains that MacQuarrie doesn’t take as much from them as other neighbors. Jamie asks if then that makes Ian “boon companions” with them. Not only does Ian accept Jamie’s assessment, but he says he looks forward to MacQuarrie’s visits, and to drinking whiskey with a man who doesn’t look upon him with pity, as if he’s “a lame cur.”

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Maybe, he continues, he favors him because he is a soldier or because…and here he pauses, looking at his best friend, “Because he reminds me of you.” Jamie pauses, and the look he gives him speaks volumes. Yes, Ian guarded his side, but he also once guarded Ian’s. Seeing this, Ian continues in a gentler voice, telling him that MacQuarrie pays the redcoats to stay away from Lallybroch and when they won’t, he fights them.

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Jamie asks if he pays one devil to protect him from another, and Ian tells him he’s not proud of it, but there it is. He steps closer to Jamie and even before he speaks, his face is grave, and we know what he is about to say is important. “What happened here with Jenny never will again. But no man can stand up to that monster Randall alone. Not you, not me. It takes an army. The watch is our army now.”

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Jamie doesn’t respond, but Ian can tell by his face that something is bothering him and asks about it. Jamie confesses that Horrocks knows about his identity, the price on his head, has asked for money to keep quiet, and he doesn’t know what to do. Ian tells him that Jenny mentioned a small sum his father left, hidden away in a nook in the tower.

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Jamie doesn’t want to use that money, but Ian tells him half of it belongs to him by right and that if Jenny knew about it— But here Jamie cuts him off, saying that Jenny doesn’t know, and he wants it kept that way. Ay. These Frasers. Jamie tells him he won’t take the money, but Ian insists, saying it’s not only what Jenny would want, but what he wants, as well.

Back in their room, Jamie tells Claire about the money, and explains that it was meant for her, and their sons and daughters. “I wanted to fill this house with our children, hand down the good Fraser name.”

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As he continues, Claire becomes increasingly more agitated.

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When Jamie says “I’ve let you down, Claire,” and turns away from her, she turns as well, and for a moment there is a gap between these two that just breaks your heart.

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It’s perversely moments like these that make me love Outlander. So many shows lead you to believe that the consummation of a relationship somehow downgrades the ability to inject drama and emotion, and that after the love is found there is nothing left to explore. But a real love affair is also a partnership of equals that requires a lifetime of negotiation and overcoming obstacles.   Seeing these two flounder and reach out, break and rebuild over and over again will never not ruin me and enchant me.

TL;DR: MOTHEREFFING FRASERS4EVA, Y’ALL.

After a few moments, Claire turns around with tears in her voice, saying it is her that has let Jamie down. He turns to look at her, but she keeps looking down as she confesses that she may never give him a son as beautiful as little Jamie. “I don’t think I can have children.” Claire isn’t looking at Jamie, but we are, and the sadness on his face is unmistakable.

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Claire hazards a sidelong glance but immediately looks away. “I tried…before I met you,” she says, voice trembling. “With Frank,” Jamie clarifies tonelessly. Claire nods and begins crying in earnest, saying she should have told him before they married, but that she never counted on loving him, much less having children with him. “I’m so sorry.”

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She is holding herself, sniffling, clearly miserable, and through Jamie’s throat works once, twice, he makes a decision to be kind to his clearly suffering wife. “Perhaps it’s for the best,” he says with a small smile. Claire finally looks at him, incredulous.

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He says that there are so many things that can go wrong. He looks earnestly at her face and reaches for her arms. “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to ye, or for ye to suffer.” Claire tells him she wouldn’t mind the pain. “I would,” he tells her gently. “I can bear pain myself, but…I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.”

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They hug, and he kisses her neck, and they part, Jamie telling Claire that he shouldn’t keep her from Jenny, and Claire reassuring him that she won’t let anything happen to his sister. Jamie smiles at her retreating back, but once she is gone, he looks around his empty bedroom and sits heavily down.

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Of course his heart is broken. He’s taken a direct hit to his hopes and dreams once again, but he recognizes Claire’s enormous guilt and chooses not to burden her with his disappointment over something she cannot help. This, folks, is how you marriage.

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That gif is so bad I laughed myself to tears. But it needed to be done.

 

Later that day, Jamie goes to meet Horrocks with a pistol hidden in his belt. As Horrocks stands above him, Jamie takes a purse from his waist and tosses it up at him.The Irishman chortles, thanking him for his generosity, and Jamie tells him they are done and begins to walk away.

Horrocks interrupts with an additional concern, which Jamie anticipated he might have. It turns out that the money he just received may be enough for safe passage to the colonies, but he wants to buy a business once he gets there so he can make a living, and he hears Boston is an expensive city.

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“That’s everything I have,” says Jamie with a rueful grin. Still, Horrocks insists, Jamie is Laird. Certainly he can raise his tenant’s rents, or sell off livestock or lands? Jamie resists, pointing out that land belongs to the clan, and has been in his family for hundreds of years. The Irishman chooses that moment to make an overt threat, saying that more would be the pity if he lost it. Jamie is amazed at his cheek, and comments that he must be “deep in the drink to say such a thing.”

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Horrocks doesn’t care, glibly stating that an Irishman’s not drunk while he can still hold on to blade of grass, and that he does partake from time to time, which loosens his tongue and makes him a danger to himself and others…like his kith and kin. Jamie reaches behind his back for his gun and advances slowly on the man, telling him to leave his kin out of it, but Horrocks has the higher ground and with it, the tactical advantage, which makes him reckless.

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He warns that the British army doesn’t take kindly to people who harbor outlaws, and that prison is no place for decent folk. Jamie is not close enough to take him unawares, and Horrocks grins, takes out his gun and holds it over his shoulder, telling Jamie that he is sure he would agree. As soon as he is done speaking, however, a knifepoint protrudes from his heart and he stares down with an amazed expression before he slumps over, dead.

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Behind him is Ian, who was guarding his Laird’s weak side.

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Jamie is stunned, and as both men stare at the lifeless body on the ground, Jamie looks up, and notices Ian’s hand is shaking. “I thought I killed my last man in the war,” Ian says, breathing hard. Jamie walks over to the dead man and kicks him, thanking his brother-in-law and saying that if he hadn’t done it, Jamie would have.

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Ian says Horrocks was an absconder, a traitor and a thief, unworthy of the Watch, and even of the redcoats. Jamie takes the purse back and tells Ian that they will bury the bastard, though it be more than he deserves. Ian nods, but is unable to put his sword back in its scabbard, where it rattles due to his shaking, and it calls Jamie’s attention back to him.

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Jamie hisses at him to wipe the blood off first and Ian does so, though quite robotically. Jamie finally notices that his friend is affected, and speaks to him gently about a discussion they used to have about which was the greater sin, fornication or killing, and if it meant they would go to hell.

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This surprises a laugh out of Ian, and he passes down his bloody sword into Jamie’s waiting hand. Ian understands what Jamie is trying to do, and the habits of a lifetime aren’t easily diverted.  He replies quietly that if Jamie’s going to hell, then he might as well go, too. “God knows you’ll never manage alone.”

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There is a beat where they are once more in perfect accord, and then Jamie tells Ian to go get the shovel.

 

Evening, Jenny is in active labor, screaming and holding on the the bed posters while Claire prepares a pallet for her to give birth on.

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As Claire passes by her, she mentions her fingers have swollen, and hands her rings and tells her to put them away in the jewelry box she has hidden in her drawer. Claire opens the box and smiles at a tiny carved snake she finds there, turning to show it to Jenny.

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Jenny says that their brother Willie carved it for Jamie for his fifth birthday, and that she recently found it and meant to give it to him. Under the snake, the word “SAWNY” is carved, a pet name based on Jamie’s second name, Alexander, and Willie’s nickname for his younger brother. Jenny holds the snake and gets emotional, saying that she knows Willie would want Jamie to have it.

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She then takes a deep breath and tells Claire that Willie is buried “out there” next to her mother. “She died two years after he did. In childbirth.” She looks gravely at her sister-in-law, and neither speak of it, but she is scared. Jenny hands the carving back and tells Claire to give it to Jamie for her. Claire holds the snake inside Jenny’s hand in both her own, and tells her firmly that she can give it to him herself.

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Another contraction comes, and Jenny drops the snake– a representation of love, loss and evil– and screams in the pain that Genesis tells us women endure as God’s punishment for the original sin.

Downstairs MacQuarrie and his men are drinking, and one of them shouts up the stairs for her to be quiet. The man who set the fire stops Ian and Jamie, who are on their way in, and tells Ian that she is “screaming like she’s giving birth to a harpsichord.”

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Ian, hearing her, is in no mood for teasing and rushes past him to go upstairs. Both MacQuarrie and Jamie look on him with pity. When the man who started the fire attempts to stare Jamie down, MacQuarrie casually walks over and says that he thinks they used more of their hay than usual, and gives him money to buy extra in case they run short in the winter.

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He then casually mentions he has not seen Horrocks since supper. Jamie pauses while serving himself wine, and says that neither has he. One of the men comments that he’ll turn up, and MacQuarrie looks at Jamie as he mutters that he’d better, because they leave the next day.

The next morning, MacQuarrie, Ian and Jamie gather for breakfast and MacQuarrie asks after Jenny, who is still in labor. Ian says the babe is taking its time, but she is coming along. The Watch commander again brings up the missing Horrocks, calling it a “wee bit of a puzzle.”

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Horrock’s horse is still outside, so he can’t have gone far, MacQuarrie reasons, and he was lazy enough that he “wouldn’t wander ten steps to pish,” much less wander away. He keeps going, saying that he has a fair grasp of mathematics, and three men went out, but only two came back in. He knows that Jamie and Horrocks knew each other already and hid it from him. “That doesn’t tally up.”

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Ian is visibly nervous, but Jamie calmly butters a bannock and says he doesn’t take MacQuarrie’s meaning. “Why’d you kill him?,” the Watch commander asks quietly.

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Jamie and Ian look up, and Ian rushes to try to explain, but Jamie speaks calmly over him, addressing MacQuarrie. “I’m a wanted man. There’s a price on my head. Ten pounds sterling.” He continues telling him it is likely double now, and that Horrocks knew it, and threatened him and his family. “So…” he picks up his bannock and bites into it “…I ran him through.” This is when my brain short-circuits because EATING BREAD should NOT BE THIS HOT.

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BRB, gotta take a shower in cold butter. NURSE.

Back to the action.

Jamie is by all accounts perfectly calm as he awaits MacQuarrie’s reaction, but he is both protecting Ian and using his ability to read people to play the odds that the Watch commander with be sympathetic to him… and the odds are in his favor. “GOOD,” MacQuarrie replies. “I never liked the Irish bastard. If ever a man needed killing, it was him.” He genuinely seems pleased.

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Even though they all chuckle, MacQuarrie is not yet done. He reminds them that they are raiding the Chisholms today, and thanks to Jamie he is now a man short. He could do with a “tall, strong, Scotsman who is swift with a sword.”

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He advises Jamie that unless he is ready to dig seven graves, including his own… Jamie agrees, stone-faced, to ride with him just this once. Ian stands and says he is coming, too, but Jamie says he is not. MacQuarrie interjects and says to let Ian come, as he has two hands and can hold a gun. MacQuarrie will take them both. He really does seem to get off on chaos.

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Upstairs, Jenny writhes on her pallet while Claire, Jamie and Ian speak in the doorway.

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Claire warns Jamie that MacQuarrie could still turn him in for the reward after he’s served his purpose, but Ian tells her he doesn’t think so, and in any case he is going with Jamie. Claire hurriedly tells Ian to stay, saying that Jenny needs her husband with her, but Jenny pipes in crankily from the floor that what she needs is her brother home safe, as she lost him once already. She points out that Claire is staying with her, “so off with the both of ye.”

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She tells Ian to hurry back, because his newborn son will be waiting to meet him. Ian smiles gently at his wife and comes inside to say his goodbyes, and Claire motions Jamie out into the hallway. They then proceed to have brief but scorching eye sex.

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They stare at each other for a moment, and Claire hands him the carving, saying Jenny asked her to give it to him. He recognizes it instantly, calling it by name, and telling Claire that he hasn’t seen it in a long time.

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As he puts it in his sporran, she rubs his arms and reminds him of what his sister said. “Haste ye back, or else.” Jamie smiles at her, and asks “Or else what?” Claire winds her arms about his neck and replies playfully that or else she will follow him, drag him back by his thick, red curls, “and you won’t like it one bit.”

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As she says this, she tugs on his hair and Jamie is obviously enjoying it. His voice is low and rough  and he smiles when he answers that “No… Sassenach, I’m sure I wouldn’t.”

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They kiss, and when they pull apart, staring at each other’s eyes, Jamie nods at his wife and she responds in kind. They pull apart, and she watches him walk away in slow motion, which is NEVER GOOD.

Once on the road, MacQuarrie asks Jamie if it isn’t good to be there, and Jamie’s response is that it’s a dangerous place to live. He asks him why he does it, since robbing is not an honorable profession. “I’m a fighter,” the older man responds, “I’m good at it.”

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He grew tired of fighting for nobility and royalty, so he fights for himself and takes his money instead of earning it. He shows Jamie a watch, a souvenir from this last raid. It is a watch shaped like a skull, based off this drawing of a watch said to belong to Mary, Queen of  Scots.

Jamie opens it and reads the inscription aloud. “Pale Death visits with impartial foot, the cottages of the poor and the palaces of the rich.”

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MacQuarrie confirms that it was Mary Stuart’s, and that she was a “a real barrel of laughs”. Both men chuckle at this, and MacQuarrie says he doesn’t mind death, as long as it comes under an open sky, and Jamie agrees. The commander tells him it doesn’t have to end today, and that they could branch out and raid far and wide and make a name for themselves, but Jamie says even if he paints “a bonny picture,” he cannot take him up on it because of Claire.

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MacQuarrie says they’ll talk again once his blood’s up and he has gold in his pocket. Jamie asks if he’ll turn him in, if not, and MacQuarrie says “Never,” with a serious face. He tells Jamie he has seen jail himself, a place called the Tolbooth, and that he wouldn’t wish it on a dog.

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“I’d shoot ye first,” he says very kindly, and rides up ahead to the bridge where they plan to stage the ambush.

Back at Lallybroch, Jenny has reached the estate-planning portion of labor, and wants Claire to promise to look after Ian.

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Claire soothes her and plays along as Jenny alternately pleads with her and damns her, saying she can’t do it. Claire reminds her that she has before and will again, and Jenny tells her to get behind her as the baby is coming.

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Claire tells her she sees him, and Jenny gets on all fours and screams.

Back with the men of the Watch, who ride under a bridge into a ravine that is surrounded by high ground. This is where Horrocks told them to wait for the Chisholms.

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They discuss the plan, and MacQuarrie comments that Horrocks knew the perfect place to plan an ambush.

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Jamie agrees, pointing out the dense cover and high ground that surrounds them…and suddenly realizes that THEY are the ones being ambushed. He mutters to MacQuarrie that there is no way out, draws his sword, and charges as Ian screams his name. Slowly the camera pans to show us that the men are completely surrounded by redcoats, and outnumbered.

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The English are given the command to fire, and we the smoke obscures the image.

 

Lallybroch, moments after the birth, Claire cleans the baby and hands her to her mother, telling her that her “bonny little lass just landed on her feet.” Jenny is surprised but pleased by her daughter, and the two women smile at each other, now bonded. Jenny looks the happiest she has ever looked.

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Time passes at Lallybroch, and three days later Claire stands at the door to the house with baby Margaret Ellen Murray (named after Jenny’s grandmother) in her arms, staring at the empty archway. Her voiceover informs us of the time elapsed, and that there has been no sign of Jamie or Ian. She sits on the steps and rocks the baby, staring at the road “as if I could will them to appear.”

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Jenny arrives to look at her baby, and Claire points out that while Wee Jamie takes after Ian Maggie has the Fraser eyes. Jenny takes the baby to Mrs. Crook for a nap and sits next to Claire. She tells her she looks good with a wee one in her arms, and that she’ll be holding her own soon enough. “I don’t know that I will,” Claire says absently, still staring at the road. Jenny notices her gaze and puts a hand on her arm, asking that she listen to her.

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She says that she stared at the same road, every day for four years. “He will come home. He always does.” Claire nods, and looks away. Jenny reaches into her pocket and pulls out two bracelets, telling Claire that they were her mother’s, and that she is tall and queenly like she was. “The lady of Lallybroch should have them.” They are two boar tusks, tipped in silver, and Claire compliments them, saying they are gorgeous and “unique.”

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Jenny smiles and says they were a wedding present, but that her mother would never say from who. She remembers her father would tease her about her secret admirer, but she would just smile “like a cat who’s had cream for its supper.” Claire, touched, leans over and kisses her sister-in-law on the cheek. Jenny smiles uncomfortably, but nothing more is said as the dogs begin to bark. Someone is coming down the road.

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The women both run down the steps and we see Ian, hopping on one leg while leaning on a man whose face we cannot see. When they come out of the shadows, we see it isn’t Jamie, but the older man from the Watch.

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Ian is not hurt, but he lost both his horse and his wooden leg in the fight. Claire walks past him to look at the road, and though it is empty, she asks anyway. Ian explains that they were ambushed, and that the redcoats knew they were coming and had waited for them. The Watch member says Horrocks must have cut a deal with them, and the other lads were killed outright, so he fetched Ian home, which was the least he could do.

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Claire turns at this and demands to know where Jamie is. Ian says MacQuarrie was wounded, and Jamie wouldn’t leave him behind. When Jenny asks if Jamie was hurt, Ian replies to his wife that not he could see, but then he turns to look at Claire. “But they took him. The redcoats have him.”

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Jenny and Claire lock horrified, identical expressions, and once more Claire turns to look longingly at the road, as if willing her husband to come home.

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Thanks for reading! I plan to knock another one out before Christmas, and then the other two before the hiatus is over. Next season will likely be only shorter ones, since not having episodes in advance makes it hard to stay timely. I’ll continue to plug away, though! If this is your first time reading, you can find the rest of my OL recaps here. For more fun, follow me here or on Twitter (@conniebv). Happy Thanksgiving!

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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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Outlander Photo Recap 109, “The Reckoning”

Not unlike Jamie and Claire, I’m not much on foreplay, so let’s get right into it.

You know it’s gonna be a great episode when the ratings system features every letter in the alphabet short of the vowels.

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Aaaand segue-way into the preview material and a new voice over. Jamie is skipping stones on water while pondering the importance of life choices.

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When he was young, he just trotted along onward with no discernible path like a fine ginger pony, but looking back on his life, he sees that “each step is a choice” and that those choices-right/wrong, life/death, love/hate-become your life. “The day I realized that, I became a man.” And whatta man.

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We see the firelight reflected in his eyes, and realize that he is not at the lake, but staring into the fire while Horrocks and his hipster beard meet with himself, Murtagh and the Mackenzies. Turns out Dougal is a bit reticent in handing over money to a man he perceives as being untrustworthy, but Jamie convinces him. When the money finally exchanges hands, Horrocks says that the guard was shot by none other than “Captain Johnathan Randall himself”. Ned doesn’t believe that the Captain would stoop to shooting his own sergeant, but Horrocks wryly comments that they know Randall, and so they probably know the answer to that.

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Jamie, upset, tells him that he can’t use Randall’s name to clear his own, but Horrocks answers that he bargained for a name, which is what he got. Dougal rushes the Englishman in anger as he mounts his horse to go, but It is at that moment that Willie comes galloping in leading Claire’s horse, and Jamie realizes she is not with him.

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When Willie relays the news that she was taken by the English and was “thrashing and yelling”, Jamie and the men gallop off after her.

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Intro song, and you might think I am making this up, but that stag knows something. WHO HAVE YOU BEEN TALKING TO, STAG?

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This leads us into a title sequence that shows Jamie’s kilt assembly process.

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He’s like a plaid Transformer, a ginger Rubik’s cube.

Fort William, night. Jamie and Murtagh are applying their fine interrogation skills to one of the English guards, convincing him to reveal Claire’s whereabouts by means of acute testicular coercion. I’m pretty sure this is how Navy SEALS do it.

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Murtagh puts an end to what I am sure would have been a really interesting lecture by applying what shall heretofore be known as the “Murtagh Special”: a knife hilt anesthetic, applied firmly and swiftly to the back of the heid. Jamie whistles for Angus and Rupert, then creeps up on the rooftop guard and uses his rifle like a shinty stick, knocking him out and earning two points according to this judge. Looking around the portion of the roof that is unguarded, he discovers a handy rope secured to a beam, and uses it to lower himself towards Randall’s window, hurrying when he hears Claire scream.

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It is dark and eerily quiet as Jamie rappels down the tower wall, and the lack of visual distractions has the intended effect. Even though I know full well what is coming, by the time Jamie crouches in the window and says the line we all know by heart, I am tense. Randall, however, is positively enchanted.

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He alternately flirts, chitchats and snaps at Jamie in a manic whirlwind: coyly asking to see his back, and giddily telling Claire that they will have an audience. When Claire shouts at Jamie to “just shoot the bastard”, BJR seems to snap out of it a bit, threatening to cut Claire’s throat and demanding Jamie put his gun down on the table. When Jamie hesitates, he swears to him that he will cut her throat, and Jamie believes him. Although his words are threatening, his eyes are bright, and I realize I am avoiding eye contact with an image on film like I think it can steal my soul.

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Claire tells Jamie to leave, and Randall takes Jamie’s gun in one hand and continues casually asks him who the man is in his marriage. Claire swears that she will cut his balls off, and he calls her a “foul-mouthed scold”, matter-of-factly commenting that he has “no idea why any man would pledge himself to a woman, especially a mendacious slut like this one”. JELLY MUCH?

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Like any other character who is into men on this show, Jack is into Jamie. I can’t say I blame him, although it doesn’t make me feel warm inside. If anything, it juts makes him creepier, which I didn’t think was possible. Let me just suggest that, whatever you were planning for Halloween, you immediately drop it and replace it with Black Jack Randall. Be a giant stack of cards that add up to 21 with a tricorn, and laugh at sad stories. Wear thigh-high boots and fishnets as Sexy BJR and shout angrily at random intervals. You will win Halloween every year because THERE IS NO ONE CREEPIER. To say his affection for Jamie is inappropriately expressed is akin to saying the Hindenburg was a snafu.

Jack asks Claire if they she would like her husband to join them, and ends up done in by the dual enemy of any villain: hubris and the seductive pull of a monologue. He taunts Jamie, asking if he would rather watch, and puts his knife down, then takes a shot. The pistol is empty.

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Jamie takes advantage of the surprise to knock his head into the table and hightail it out of there with his wife, leaving Randall unconscious. Jamie thinks back on why he left Randall alive, but it would have never occurred to him “ta kill a helpless man, even one such as Randall.” They run into redcoats on their first few attempts, but thank goodness it takes like a solid half-hour to load those guns or they wouldn’t have made it. As it is, they have to jump off the roof into the murky water below, which is totally not a metaphor.

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The ride back is relatively quiet, and when they stop at a creek to water the horses, Jamie steers Claire away to tenderly ask her if she is all right. At her grateful assurance that Randall did not hurt her, he steps back and sternly if a little insecurely says that he is waiting for her to say something approaching an apology, and just like that, they are off.

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Like any argument with a new spouse, this is pretty much the intersection of two worlds colliding. Claire and Jamie see the marriage from radically different perspectives and, what is less common, radically different time periods.  Claire is outraged that Jamie should assign her fault when she had no ill intent (although one does not absolve the other), and Jamie is rigid in his view that their current predicament is Claire’s responsibility to shoulder (BJR had a bit to do with it). Of course it is coming from a place of fear, but it expresses as anger. Jamie tells Claire that none of this would have happened had she listened to  her husband’s order, and because she does what she wants, he found her flat on her back “with the worst scum of the earth between your legs, about to take you before my very eyes.” Claire reminds him that she begged to go with him, but that he didn’t listen to her “because women are only fit to take orders.”

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Jamie grabs her arm and growls that if only she had done that, they “would not be on the run with a hundred redcoats” on their tail. Claire, for some godforsaken reason that makes about as much sense as the rest of it, decides that it’s a good time to slap her angry husband and it escalates quickly and quite viciously from there.

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The highlights: Jamie thinks Claire got herself abducted on purpose to get revenge for almost being raped before (huh?), and Claire shouts that she doesn’t like that she is married to him and she is nothing but a c*ck-garage (c*ckrage?). They are basically throwing verbal tomatoes at each other.

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Claire follows Jamie around when he tries to turn away, and it finally ends when she calls Jamie a “f*cking bastard” and he retaliates by calling her “a foul-mouthed b*tch” and saying that she won’t speak to him like that.

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I hate it when mom and dad fight.

After he shouts at her, there is an instant and discernible change on Jamie’s face, and you can see that he is surprised at the extent to which he has lost his temper. Surprise turns into dismay, and it is a testament to the acting in this scene that this transition is verbose without a single word being uttered. As his temper cools, Jamie seems to shrink and become frail, falling back against the rock and sliding down so his eye line and the bulk of his mass is below Claire.

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In a subconscious complement to her husband, Claire’s face softens and becomes concerned, her natural healing instincts kicking in.

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Jamie admits brokenly that he faced Randall “with an empty pistol and [his] own bare hands” and starts to shake when he recalls her screams. By the time he utters “Yer tearin’ my guts out, Claire,” she is ready for this to be over, and so am I. She apologizes twice before he looks up. “Jamie, forgive me.”

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Jamie accepts, returning her apology and telling her that he didn’t mean what he said out of anger. Voice-over Jamie admits that it didn’t matter, he would have forgiven her anything she did or was going to do. There was no choice, because he had fallen in love. By the end of this scene I felt like I ate too much Lithuanian food: top-heavy, a bit queasy, and definitely ready for a nap.

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Don’t let that scare you off Lithuanian food though, it’s delicious.

When they arrive at an inn for the night, Claire and Jamie are seated apart from the others, and though quite tender to each other, notice that the men are not replying to Claire’s attempts at conversation and  pretending they can’t hear her speak, which I suppose is the most adult way a room of grown-ass men can handle this situation. Claire excuses herself to go upstairs, and Jamie catches Murtagh’s eye. With a shorthand that is terrifying in its brevity, the older man communicates in one sentence what the problem is “She doesna understand what she nearly cost us,” he tells his nephew. “Aye, and she needs to,” Jamie replies. MAYBE HE MEANT YOU NEEDED A PIE CHART, JAMIE.

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Upstairs, a tired Claire invites Jamie to go to bed, but he tells her they have a matter yet to settle between them.  Claire is tired, affectionate, and Jamie starts out kindly, explaining the things that would have happened to a man if he had put them in danger as Claire had. She apologizes again, and Jamie ruefully tells her that if it had only been him, he could have have let it pass, but it was not,  and it is his duty as husband to see she is “punished.“

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There is a nuanced buildup here that is so realistic and convincing.Claire’s expressions progress from bewilderment, to confusion, to disbelief, to alarm, panic and finally, anger. This is a thinking, logical woman of science, and this is some Lord of the Flies justice. I can totally get why she rejects the hypothesis that physical harm will somehow improve her memory.

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Jamie is educated and open-minded as well, but not two centuries’ worth, and this is not an area where he sees a need to bend, much less for an individual that he is treating the way you would a child, not an equal. He tries reason, coercion, and finally, resorts to brute strength to get his way, holding her on his lap and smacking her on the rear with a folded belt as she fights him back with scratches and kicks.

Thinking about this critically, this is the visualization of every virtue these two possess drawn out to its darker, more negative expression. Jamie is a leader, and pretty good at getting his way. He has no reason to think his wife will not submit and obey like any woman of her time, plus he feels that he is within his rights as a husband. Claire is quick and logical, a healer and problem-solver which is a bit of an anomaly even in her time. She has no reason to think that hurting someone on purpose is justified by any means, or that she needs to be made an example of by a person who has pledged to care for her. Neither stance makes sense to the other, and so, worlds collide.

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I think it would be less accurate to call this a spanking than an all-out domestic, even if Claire was always destined to lose. Jamie doesn’t expect her to fight back to the extent that she does, and Claire is clearly not taking this as anything but deadly serious. Although by the end he seems to get a sort of thrill from subjugating her, it won’t be one he enjoys for long, and he has no idea that the lesson he takes away will last longer and be more deeply impressed than hers.

The next morning the pair come down for breakfast, and the men are in a forgiving mood, joking with and about Claire. Ned even offers that she should sit with him, but she coldly says she will stand… away from Jamie, who stares balefully at her while she eats her oatmeal like a dummy that doesn’t realize that his headstrong wife can hold a grudge with surgical precision.

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“Justice done, problem solved,” Naive Jamie later tells us via voice-over. He thought the matter settled, but that he also had “precious little experience as a husband” and did not realize that their arrival at Leoch would influence decisions he made on their behalf for a long time to come.

Upon their entrance into Leoch Claire and Jamie are greeted by the gathered inhabitants, who are waiting to congratulate them on their marriage.

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The Laird and Lady also make an appearance, but while Letitia is gracious and cues her husband seamlessly, Colum can barely bite out a polite congratulations, and is obviously not pleased, walking out directly after a series of awkward pauses and stares so pointed that there couldn’t have been a single person in that hall who was fooled into thinking he was happy about this outcome.

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In the next scene, we see Jamie rushing down a hallway when, with almost an audible record scratch, Laoghaire steps out to intercept him with a plaintive “Why?”

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She wants to know what happened, explaining to Jamie that after their little kissing interlude, she thought there was something of a promise between them and that she had waited for him to come back and been surprised by his marriage.

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Jamie, whether it is because he is knocked off-game by his argument with Claire or because he is hurrying to attend a summons from Colum, handles this in the absolute worst manner possible. He tells her it was not something he planned, but Dougal’s arrangement, and that an explanation will have to wait. She agrees that he “canna keep the Mackenzie waiting”, but when she nervously asks if they will speak again, he says “Aye,” with a small smile and then touches her shoulder and says gently, “You have my word.”

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UGH JAMIE. She actually doesn’t have your word. You’re married. Someone needs to spank you so you remember it. Now I don’t blame the child for thinking that a man of marriageable age who takes a beating on her behalf and then kisses her stupid perhaps has feelings for her. Hell, when I was sixteen I was convinced I was going to marry George Micheal. What I am saying here is that Jamie, diplomat and strategist, really pooped all over this opportunity to be concise and direct, and I don’t blame her for being or feeling led on.

In Colum‘s study, Jamie joins Dougal and Ned, who are discussing the rents. Colum greets him jovially at first, but then asks which of the three “weasels” want to explain Fort William to him, and whether or not the consequences of that will fall on his clan. Jamie assures him that Randall will make sure they fall only on him. Colum then asks Ned about the rent money, and when he explains that there is still “some of the livestock yet to sell off,” the Laird asks about “the money for the bonnie Stuart prince across the water,” and picks up the purse to show them that he has it.

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Colum points out that at least Jamie looks guilty, but he disagrees, saying he owes no allegiance to James or Charie and his conscience is clear. Dougal does exonerate him when he explains that they only used Jamie’s back to “illustrate British justice.”

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Although taken by surprise, Dougal tries reason to bring Colum over to his side, explaining that the people who gave them gold knew it was being raised to restore “the rightful King” and that the cause “is more important than any clan-or man.” Colum doesn’t take this well.

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He angrily replies that THIS clan remains under the charge of THIS man” and since it is still his pleasure to determine what causes are supported, he determines that “Clan Mackenzie’s welfare comes before any King or country.”

When met with the unremitting wall of his brother’s disagreement, Dougal boils over into anger, listing the things he has done for his brother and what he expects in return, a list that gets JUST A BIT SH*TTIER the longer it goes on.

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“I’ve proved my loyalty to you time and again. I’ve collected your rents, I’ve fought your battles, I’ve protected your person… for the love of Christ, I’ve even assured your bloodline! Now…I think that such fealty is worth a mere bag of gold. Don’t you?”

Jamie’s eyes widen at this last revelation, and even Ned flinches. Colum, although shorter and seemingly weaker than his brother hardens and vibrates with anger, his voice deadly quiet when he orders Dougal to “Leave my sight.”

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Ned follows to try to calm Dougal, and Colum tells him that it is either that, or he “will do it for him.” Jamie, showing his usual ability to read the room, quickly excuses himself with assurances that his uncle probably wishes to chastise him at a later time. “Stay,” Colum bites out, and Jamie does, looking like a school boy.

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In a truly surprising development, Colum lists all the things he did for Jamie, and then takes him to task for marrying a Sassenach, knowing full well that this meant no Mackenzie would back him as his replacement. It is a throwback to The Gathering, and it crystallizes the Laird’s position on his brother’s succession in one moment. Dougal is a good, strong arm, but a hot head, and Colum likely had hopes that his nephew would succeed him.

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It completes the portrait of Colum as the man who first promised Claire her freedom and then reneged. Even when it comes to his brother and his wife, Colum does what is best for the Clan. The parallels to Claire and Jamie’s disagreement are strong: the brothers are in a partnership that is supposed to pull towards a common, united good, but differences in perspective threaten that unity. Added to this dynamic is the fact that both are acknowledged leaders, and men. Jamie answers his uncle with a platitude, saying that he “meant no such betrayal”.

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Colum, done with everyone who doesn’t mean to betray him but does, turns his attention to his pet bird and tells Jamie to get out.

That night, Jamie tells Claire about what transpired in the meeting, and she states that she knew Hamish was Dougal’s from the moment she saw them playing in the courtyard. Jamie says he had heard the gossip and everyone in the room knew it, but it was the first time he heard Dougal proclaim it, and he thought “Colum was going to run him through right there.”

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As they speak, Claire is readying herself for and eventually climbs into their lovely decorated bed, and Jamie’s speech becomes increasingly more disjointed and his eyes wider as they focus on his wife in her thin shift, and the parts of her he can make out through it.

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He takes off his coat with his eyes glued to her breasts, and Claire, not missing a beat asks “What do you think you’re doing?” “Well, I thought I would…” Jamie says, looking at her in bed.

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“Think again,” she snaps, pulling the covers high and turning her back to him. Jamie leaves the room, cursing in Gaelic. HAHA you poor horny optimistic bastard. I think they wrote a song about you once.

When Jamie goes to join the men for a stag hunt, Rupert and Angus are ganging up on Willie, who it turns out was Colum’s informant. He pleads his case, saying that he did as the Laird asked of him, but it is clear that the men assembled are not so loyal to Clan Mackenzie as they are to its War Chief. Jamie pushes Willie behind him and tries to diffuse the situation by gamely pointing out that there is only one Laird, but Rupert points out that this is Mackenzie business, and maybe the Frasers should butt out.

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Dougal arrives and takes in the situation at a single glance. He casually points out that they are hunting for stag, and mildly asks, “Who’s with me?’ with a loaded look around at those assembled. Jamie and Willie avert their eyes and Murtagh, in a moment of sublime wordless communication, takes his sweet time spitting on the ground in what can best be compared to a George Carlin insult, if Carlin had only spoken in phlegm.

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Not even Dougal can help but be amused, and the situation is temporarily diffused, although still simmering.

In a moment of privacy watering a rock, Murtagh tells Jamie that they should leave that very night, since Rupert was right and this is not their fight. Jamie points out that Horrocks was his only chance of exonerating himself, and that living as a fugitive would be hard on Claire. Murtagh suggests leaving her behind and coming back for her when they are able, but it is clear from Jamie’s expression that he doesn’t endorse that and he’s through taking marriage advice from unmarried Murtagh.

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In any case, it’s not urgent, Murtagh says, since the Prince isn’t likely to sail any time soon-information which Jamie repeats with a canny look on his face.

The following day Jamie employs his natural skill for diplomacy (one of his defining traits in the books) on his uncle. He tells a resistant Colum that he must forgive his brother, and that while keeping the money may soothe his anger in the short-term, it will not promote long term-peace. Colum brings up his warring clansmen, and the fact that he would be inciting treason.

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Jamie, in turn, makes strategic use of Murtagh’s earlier comment: Bonnie Prince Charlie’s situation is nowhere near resolved, and his army just a faraway dream. If Colum appears to give his brother a token in the form of the money, he can keep the peace at home, and have time to scope out what is in the best interests of the Clan. Let Dougal play the rebel while he looks at both sides.

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Jamie says that Dougal may be War Chief, but he knows that only Colum can call for war. It is an obvious ploy, but a compelling argument, and Colum asks him to go get his brother and Ned and bring them to him.

Dougal and Ned are brought back in, and stand facing Colum, who is staring at his pet bird, tied to his perch. Dougal finally loses patience and snaps, asking if there is a purpose to the meeting or if they are just meant to stand there all day, and you can see his brother rein in his temper before he turns around.

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Colum walks up to his brother  and says ruefully that one day he will talk his head off, “and right onto a pike.” He pulls his dirk out, and Dougal flinches, unsure.

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Colum reminds him of the oath Dougal swore to him and asks what “a man’s oath is worth these days…perhaps a bag of gold?“ Dougal, offended, says that his oath to his brother was his oath to Scotland, and he has not broken either, nor will he. “We’ll see,” Colum answers, turning to his desk. He tosses Dougal the gold, and asks Ned to write a letter to the Duke of Sandringham, inviting him to a banquet in his honor. Dougal makes an off-color remark about how he should also tell the men to guard their backsides, and Ned snaps at him to guard his tongue, complimenting Colum on the wisdom of obtaining “the true measure of the Jacobite cause from an Englishman’s perspective.”

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But Colum, outmaneuvered and out of patience, tells Ned it will take more than a compliment to get back in his good graces. “Get out of my sight, all three of you,” Colum says to the room at large, and they do.

This situation resolved, Jamie ponders the issue of his still-divided marriage, and while he is thinking on it by the river, Laoghaire comes by. She reminds Jamie that he promised they would talk.

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It starts out innocently enough, with her revealing that she has been in love with him since she was seven. He points out that he is wed now, but she chalks it up to a gallant act of kindness, “marrying the Sassenach to spare her from the British”. Jamie says that it was “true that the marriage was arranged by Dougal but….” then seems to take an inordinately long time to come up with the end of that sentence. Did you have a stroke, Jamie? Did your tongue fall out?

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Laoghaire uses the opening to tell him he does not look happy. “You look like you’re carrying the world on yer back,” she says, reaching for his hand and holding it. Jamie doesn’t only allow it, but strokes her fingers. I thought it was maybe the rage making my vision blurry, but no, I rewound! She tells him that the beating he took for her and later, the kisses in the alcove told her that he felt the same way she did. Jamie’s reaction? Silence.

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So Laoghaire confidently plays her trump card. She tells him that while Claire was married before, she has not lain with anyone, and drops her cloak in the old-undergarments-under-the-overgarment-trick, placing his hand on her breast, naked under her bodice. Jamie could have…

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…but no, in the age-old tradition of men who absolutely don’t want to f*ck someone, he squeezes her breast in a slow waltz beat while she leans in and tells him that she wishes him to be her first and only, whispering the last against his mouth. They sway precariously against each other for a few seconds until he pants out a “No“ and pushes her gently away with the hand he keeps on her breast for the first half of what he says next. “I made a vow, and I’ll no’ break it, not even for a lass as bonny as you. I’m sorry.”

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I am sure I could consider that Jamie, newly awakened to sex and then denied it for an unspecified period could be forgiven for copping a feel, but I resist that train of thought. It feels out-of-character to me that a man who was outraged by Claire offering to share her room with him in “Rent” should not have stricter boundaries, and to say Jamie handles this poorly is a gross understatement, and not just because of Claire. Laoghaire is SIXTEEN, gently raised, in stupid, all-consuming first love and he uses her for selfish reasons. Saving me the need to swan dive into my TV set and kick Jamie in his very blue balls, the scene finally ends when Laoghaire, humiliated and rejected, runs off.

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That night, Jamie comes into his room to find Claire brushing her hair. He tells her that speaking to Colum about Dougal has caused him to realize that there are times when you bend tradition. He says that in his father’s time and before that, if a wife disobeyed, a husband punished them… but maybe for them “it has to go a different way.” He takes out his sword, and kneeling before Claire, swears an oath of fealty.

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When he is done, she stares at him wordlessly, and I am once again struck by how Jamie’s P.O.V. paints forthright, brassy Claire as a creature of mystery. He, and by extension we, cannot guess at her intent. Jamie asks if it is not enough, and if she wants to live separate.

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She should want that, Claire says sternly, and Jamie gets ready to pull away… when her hand lands over his heart, and she whispers, “but I don’t.” Jamie places his hand over hers, and tells her that her ring was made from part of the key to Lallybroch, his family home. He wanted her to tell her when they visited it, so she would know it was part hers, too, although now they may never see it. Claire, guilty, is about to say something when Jamie interrupts. “The thought doesna pain me so much as it once might have.” He strokes her face and comes as close as he can to an admission of love without saying the words. “You are my home now.”  Finally, a reconciliation.

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Jamie then proves consent can be sexy as f*ck, telling Claire that he “wants her so bad he can scarcely breathe” and asking if she will have him. At her affirmative, they proceed to have the kind of sex that neighbors complain about and gleeful recappers rewind several times, then unexplicably blush at because they feel they are intruding .

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Right at the beginning, Claire assumes the dominant position in more ways than one, pulling Jamie’s dagger out of its sheath by his head and holding the tip right to his carotid. While still actively body-^%$#@ing him, she mind$#@s him as well, going full Moriarty and telling him that if he ever lays a hand on her again, she “will cut [his] heart out and have it for breakfast.”

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At his wild-eyed nod of acknowledgement, she tosses the dagger and then proceeds to get flipped like a pancake, Jamie grabbing her breast and growling to her that she is his. It is energetic, athletic, and not a little confrontational, this sex. It’s also pretty hard to get a screen cap without naughty bits, so here’s what I came up with. It’s pretty explicit.

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When it is over, Jamie asks Claire what she meant by “fucking” and “sadist” and she explains both with a grin. He laughs and says that while she does not flatter him, he can’t fault her reasoning. They are very sweet to each other, Jamie tapping her nose and she teasing him.

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When Jamie appears ready for another go, however, Claire confesses that she is “ravenous” and he reluctantly agrees to go to the kitchen for something to eat, pulling his kilt out from under the bed. As he does so, Claire notices something under there and pulls it out. It is a rough sort of poppet, and when she asks Jamie what it is, he tells her it is “an ill-wish.” Claire asks who would have put it under the bed, and Jamie comes to the same conclusion as we do, biting out what I am sure is the first of many an annoyed “Laoghaire”‘s.

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Thanks for reading until the end! if this is your first time finding me, feel free to read my other Outlander recaps, archived here, and see you back for 110, “By the Pricking of My Thumbs”! For updates and other nonsense, follow me here or on Twitter at @conniebv

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Ex-Post Facto, Y’all. Outlander Recap 101, “Sassenach”

Here it is, set complete, promise kept. My sincere thanks to everyone complicit in this labor of love. See you all after April 4th!

 

We start with a view of stormy skies over dappled hills and a female voice over saying “People disappear all of the time…” As she talks about housewives and kids who are found (usually) and how most disappearances have explanations.

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And so we meet Claire, who contemplates that she never had reason to buy a vase, mostly because she has never been anywhere long enough to build the kind of stable decorative support system a young vase needs. I expect her to start talking about other ornamental pottery she never got to own, but no, just the vase. At least the voice over gives us a time. “It was a Tuesday, six months after the end of the war.” So 1946.

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Flashback to France, where Claire was a nurse in an army hospital. We see her clamping a vein like a boss, being bled on and kicking ass when a doctor takes over, and she wanders outside to find that the war is over and Champagne is being passed out like cookies, or VD.

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Back in present day, Claire muses that “the end of the bloodiest and most terrible war in human history” grows fainter, but damn if she doesn’t remember every detail “of the day [she] saw the life [she] wanted sitting in a window.” She wonders what would have happened had she made a home for the vase. “Would I have been happy? Who can say?” You guys, this is trippy because the voice over is Claire From The Future. She is all-knowing. Like Yoda. “I know now,” Cloda/Yaire says, “even after the pain, death and heartbreak that followed, I would still make the same choice.”

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand intro! Stream-of-consciousness thoughts:

Dancing nuns! Bambi’s dad! A whip, a pipe and some truly fantastic jawlines & silhouettes prance around the countryside riding horsey horses and metal horses and shooting things and stabbing things while running and walking. There is also some portion of anatomy that I will just say is the back of someone’s knee because I’m a recapper, Jim, not an anatomist!

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It ends with a couple on horseback riding like hell, and a stone circle. I played this back about 3x in a row but only pretended to be the dancing nuns twice. The third time I was the stag. Good times. Good credits. Gorgeous song.

Because I read the books, for me seeing the stones was like seeing The Beatles.

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Big-band music plays as we close in on Claire and her husband Frank Randall driving through the Scottish countryside on their second honeymoon. Turns out the war kept them apart for five years, and this is a way to reconnect.

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The town square is adorable and so are they, with their coats and hats and their inquiries about blood on doorways of superstitious Scots… PRECIOUS. They go register Mrs. Baird’s Inn, and the namesake tells them that the blood they see on the doors is from a black rooster, meant to honor St. Otteran on his feast day (Oct 27). This causes Frank to riff on Christianity squatting on pagan holidays, basically outing himself as a history nerd, and Claire confirms it when she says he’s due to start a professorship at Oxford in two weeks. As Frank nerds hard with Mrs. Baird, I remember who he reminds me of:

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Mrs. Baird comments that they picked a good time to visit, near Samhain,  and warns them to look out for carousing ghosts who ‘get a pass’ that day. They smile politely while obviously not believing a word she says, and head upstairs.

They walk into their room, and the voice over tells us that although Claire and Frank were once inseparable, they only spent 10 days together in the last five years, and things had not gone back to normal. You can tell by the way they act around each other, Claire determinedly cheerful and Frank a bit nervous.

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Frank sits down on the bed and comments on the very loud mattress, dryly noting that “Mrs. Baird will be kept appraised of any renewed attempts to start a family.” I take this as a sign of impending shenanigans, but he goes back to reading his notebook. Claire, obviously the fun one, calls him out as a “lazybones” who will never manage to grow that family tree unless he actually um, fertilizes the soil.

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She starts to jump on the bed and convinces him to join her, and they both laugh and bounce so hard that Mrs. Baird below glances up at her chandelier. They stop to catch their breath and Claire says that one of the things she would try and be unable to recall at night was the sound of her husband’s laughter. Frank, touched by this, reveals that he used to sketch the lines of the palm of her right hand, even once into a report. He kisses her palm very tenderly, and she kisses him.

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He tries to interrupt her to say something, but she shushes him and pulls him down with her to kneel on the bed as she takes his jacket off. Downstairs, Mrs. Baird watches the chandelier shake gently, and smiles.

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Some time later, they are driving through the countryside. Frank points out Cocknammon Rock, where English soldiers would lie in ambush for Scottish brigands and rebels in the 17th and 18th centuries. Claire smiles indulgently, and remembers being raised by her Uncle Lamb, an archaeologist. She traipsed all over the world as a child, digging latrines and smoking cigars like all little girls dream about doing. This is no wilting flower.

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They arrive at some ruins, and Claire tells us that Frank had developed an interest in his personal genealogy while she was cataloging plants for their medicinal purposes. Frank announces that they are at “Castle Leoch, the ancestral home of the Laird of the Mackenzie clan until midway through the 19th Century.” They go inside to take a look in what he thinks was the kitchen, crumbling and overgrown with vines. Claire tells us that delving into his past allowed Frank to forget his recent work during the war: running covert operations and overseeing spies.

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He had sent dozens of men on secret missions, most of whom never returned. He didn’t talk about it often, but she knows it preyed on him. Frank tells Claire with a smile that there is no proof that his ancestor was ever there, but it was “within his operational sphere” so he may have walked those same halls.

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They walk down a dark hallway and push their way past a stuck door into a basement room littered with bottles. Claire jokes that it was where the castle trolls lived, and Frank dryly answers that trolls are solitary and don’t live in pairs, because Frank cannot let an opportunity to nerd hard pass him by. This scene then takes a hard left at Albuquerque. Claire sits on a table and coyly crosses her legs. “All this, and no one to share it with?”

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Frank, seeing the glint in her eye, says she’ll get dirty. “You can give me a bath,” she entices, hiking her skirt up. What follows makes me wish I could high-five every single woman reading this recap, and I don’t even have to tell y’all why. I think it’s enough to note that Frank remarks on Claire’s lack of underthings, and when he tries to kiss her, she pushes him downward. He doesn’t even take the camera off his shoulder, people. That’s love.

All Hallow’s Eve, about a week later, the Randalls visit the Rev. Wakefield, who is helping them look into Johnathan Wolverton Randall, Frank’s direct ancestor and a Captain in the Dragoons back in the 1740s.

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He was stationed in the area, harassing the locals for about 4 years. Claire remarks on the continuing ill will towards the English, saying that she heard someone in the pub refer to them as “Sassenachs”. Rev. Wakefield clarifies that it just means they are English or at worst, “outlanders.” The reverend’s housekeeper, Mrs. Graham, shows up with tea for the men, and asks Claire if she would like to take hers in the kitchen, which hell yes she does.

Claire remarks on the quality of the tea, and Mrs. Graham reveals that she reads tea leaves, offering to read hers.

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Claire laughingly asks if she will meet “a tall dark stranger and take a trip across the sea“? Mrs. Graham smiles, but then frowns at the cup. “Could be…or could not”. It turns out her tea leaves contradict each other. A leaf indicating a journey is crossed by one indicating staying put, and though she meets strangers, one of them is her husband. Mrs. Graham asks to see Claire’s hand, and tells her the pattern on it is one she has not seen before. Some things she can tell: Claire is strong-minded, with a will “not easily crossed,” and her husband “is not likely to stray” from her bed.

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Claire’ lifeline is “interrupted, in bits and pieces,” and while her marriage line indicates two marriages, it is not broken, but forked. Just as Claire starts to look worried, Frank and the reverend interrupt. They are discussing the possibility that Black Jack had a powerful protector in his time, and suspect the Duke of Sandringham, a suspected Jacobite who died under suspicious circumstances. Claire takes this opportunity to leave, and warns Frank to come home before the storm breaks.

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It is during her walk home that she sees the vase, and is bothered by “a certain sense of prophecy” in Mrs. Graham’s words. The war taught her to cherish the present, the voice over tells us, because tomorrow may never come, but she did not know that tomorrow would come to matter less than yesterday.

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That night, Claire brushes her hair by a window and takes the Lord’s (and Roosevelt’s) name in vain. Frank, walking home in the rain, is stopped cold by the sight of a man silhouetted in the dark, looking up at his wife through her window. He is in traditional Scots garb, and seen only from the back.

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When Frank approaches him saying “Excuse me, can I help you with something?”, the figure turns to the left and vanishes.

Arriving upstairs in the hotel room, Frank rushes to the window to look outside. Claire, lighting candles since the lights went out, tries to get his attention. She tells him he looks like he’s seen a ghost, and he says that he can’t say he hasn’t. A little later he tells Claire that the man was close enough that he should have brushed past him, but he didn’t feel anything, and he vanished instantly.

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He then carefully asks Claire if she had any Scots in her care as a nurse. She remembers one of many in particular, a piper who didn’t like needles. She smiles at the memory, but at the sudden closed look on Frank’s face, Claire wants to know what exactly he is asking.

It turns out Frank thought the man was someone Claire met during the war who “wanted to reconnect,” telling her it would not be unusual that she would have sought comfort. Claire is upset that he thinks she would have cheated on him, but she never actually says she didn’t.

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Still, Frank tells her that even if she had it would not matter to him. He loves her, an nothing would stop him loving her. He asks for her forgiveness, she gives it, and they make repentant geek love with their watches on. Claire’s voice over wants to make sure we know that the Randalls never lost their sex-mojo, it being the one way they could find their way back to one another.

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Later in bed, Frank tells Claire that he wants to set an alarm to “see the witches”. It turns out there is a circle of standing stones called Craigh Na Dun outside town where druids gather before daybreak, and he wants to see their Samhain celebration.

Early the next morning, they hide and watch the ceremony. Figures in white come out with paper lanterns and begin a stately dance. Among them is Mrs. Graham, the reverend’s housekeeper.

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Claire thinks that they should have been ridiculous, but instead there is a voice in her head that tells her she is witnessing something “ancient and powerful,” and that she shouldn’t be there. The dance ends with the rising sun, and the participants disperse slowly.

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Frank and Claire walk to the stones afterwards to look around, but sneak off when they see one of the girls coming back. Later that day, Claire wonders about the purple flowers she saw at the base of one of the stones, and Frank recommends she go back and have a look, since he will be at the Reverend’s house all day doing research. They kiss goodbye.

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Claire arrives at the stones in her car, and walks up the hill. There is no one there when she picks her flowers, after which a strong wind begins to blow. She stands and walks to one of the stones as if compelled, placing both hands upon it, and the screen goes black.

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Via voice over (man, there is a lot of it) Claire tells the story of falling asleep in a car once that fell off a bridge, and how that is the closest she can come to describing how she felt -“but even that fell woefully short.”

 

She wakes up on the ground next to the stones (which now have trees growing among them) and runs to find her car, except her car isn’t there…and neither is the road.

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She keeps wandering around the much denser woods when suddenly, the sound of gunfire startles her and she sees men in the distance. “When confronted with the impossible, the rational mind will grasp for the logical,” says V.O. Claire. She wonders if she has stumbled onto the set of a costume drama (hint: she has), but does not think it makes sense that they are firing live ammunition. An officer shoots at her and she runs away, losing her belt in the process, and right to a creek, where we see a familiar face filling a canteen.

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Claire thinks it’s Frank as well, and upon seeing his expression, realizes that it is SO NOT. When she asks him who he is, he introduces himself as “Johnathan Randall, Esquire, Captain of his majesty’s 8th Dragoons, at your service.” When Claire, spooked, runs like a pony, he gives chase and backs her up against a wall with a sword at her throat, asking who she is.

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Claire tells him that her husband, Frank Beauchamp, will be looking for her, but he doesn’t believe her. Claire, exasperated, snaps at him to get off her, calls him a bastard and spits in his face, to which he responds that she has the speech of a lady, but the manners of a whore. “I choose the whore,” he says, turning her around and ripping at her underthings. Suddenly, a highlander falls from the sky like a hairy dirty angel and knocks him out, gesturing to Claire to come with him.

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She doesn’t understand him but goes along, all the while asking who he is and where they are. The highlander, trying to hide from the redcoats, takes the expedient route to quiet her, knocking her out.

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Claire wakes up on his horse, which is arriving at a small cottage. She was wishing it was a dream, but dreams don’t come with smell-o-vision. What they DO come with, however, is a lot of men in kilts. She is shoved inside while the men quite obviously discuss her, but there is no way of knowing because it is not translated for us.

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A large man by the fire stands up and walks over, the living personification of a bald eagle, speaking gently to her in English, asking her to come closer to the fire to have a look at her, and for her name. Claire decides to use the surname Beauchamp, in case they intended to ransom her so as to keep her trail from leading to Frank. It’s sweet that she wants to protect him, but if the Captain is any indication, only bastards claim the Randall surname.

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The highlander, Murtagh, tells who he found her with (”a certain Captain of Dragoons”) and that there seemed to be a question of whether or not she was a “whuuuure.” The man asks for Claire’s position on the debate and she testily snaps out “I. Am. Not.” Murtagh agrees, saying he would stake his life on it, and uses his name: Dougal. One of the other men jokes about testing her, and Dougal silences him, saying he does not hold with rape.

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He is clearly the leader, as the men fall into line immediately. He adds that they will sort it later, and walks back to the fireplace, saying they have to “do something about Jamie first.”

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Claire contemplates escape, but has no idea where she is and feels that doing so in the evening “would be a fool’s errand.” She watches the men discuss what to do with Jamie, who has what seems to be a dislocated shoulder and cannot get back on a horse. One of the men wants to “force the joint back” and although Claire knows it would have been wiser to stay silent, she cannot help but rush forward, shouting “Don’t you dare!” when the man gives Jamie a drink to ease the pain, and then takes the arm up to begin.

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She tells them to step aside, or they will break his arm. She speaks to Dougal, saying that the arm must be in the correct position before it is slipped back into the joint. He steps aside and lets her examine the injured man, Jamie, who is noticeably less hairy and younger than the other men. YES PLEASE.

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She gently bends his arm and then with a brief heads-up, pops it back in. He is astounded, saying that it no longer hurts. She warns him it will, for about a week, and looks up, asking the nearest man to “fetch her a long piece of cloth, or a belt” for a sling. He mocks her, but Dougal snaps at him to giver her his belt. The injured man, Jamie, wryly comments that she must have done this before. She tells him she is a nurse, and his eyes immediately go to her bosom. “Not a wet nurse!” she snaps, and OMG you two, just kiss. He meekly submits as she gives him his instructions for care, at the end of which a much grumpier Dougal makes sure he can ride, and tells the group they are leaving.

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When they step outside, Claire worries that she cannot see Inverness, but Jamie tells her she is looking straight at it. She notices the lack of electric lighting and finally accepts that she is no longer in the 20th century. Dougal comes out and tells her that she is ride with them and if she wanders, he will slit her throat. I guess when she was helpless he was a gentleman, but now that he knows she’s a thinker he gets to treat her like dirt. Man, time travel is looking less romantic all the time.

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Dougal hoists Claire up into the saddle in front of Jamie, who struggles to cover them both with his plaid to keep them warm and dry through the night, as they will be riding through the next two nights. Even though Claire at first rejects him, she is nothing if not practical.

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Lots of gorgeous scenery shots. What an advertisement for the country.

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The party is going down a wide path in daylight when Claire looks up, recognizing the rock formation that Frank showed her at the beginning of the episode. She mentions to Jamie that she knows the place, and that the English use it for ambushes. Jamie looks around, noticing that it is a good place for one, and rushes ahead to tell Dougal. Dougal is immediately suspicious of Claire’s information and where she got it from (”the village”), but apparently trusts it enough to give it merit.

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As he gestures for them to turn around, however, redcoats burst out at them and Jamie quickly yanks his arm out of the sling and dumps Claire off his horse, telling her to hide herself as the men rush into battle.

 

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Claire briefly lays low and observes the fight, but then takes off running through the woods in an effort to escape. I have no idea why. You would have to pry me from that man’s thighs with a crowbar. Unfortunately for her but fortunately for us, Jamie intercepts her, asking sarcastically if she lost her way.

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Claire must feel that misdirection is the better part of valor, because she immediately notices that he is hurt, and points it out to him.

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He assures her that it is not his blood (”Not much of it, anyway”) and that they must return as Dougal and the others are waiting for them upstream.

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Claire picks this point to dig in her heels and say she isn’t going with him, but he points his sword at her and tells her she is.

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She asks him if he will cut her throat if she doesn’t, but he doesn’t rise to the bait. Instead, he uses her earlier concern over his wound to tell her that if she will not come, he will pick her up and throw her over his shoulder.

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“D’ye want me to do that?“, he asks, and Claire tearfully spits out a no. “Well then,” says Jamie, “Suppose that means yer comin’ with me.” IF ONLY.

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Further up the road, the highlanders toast Claire and Jamie offers her a drink as Dougal glares at her. At first she refuses, but later accepts when he tells her it won’t fill her belly but at least she’ll forget she is hungry. That’s some homeless logic, right there.

 

That night, they are riding single file when Jamie tumbles over off his horse like a big ol’ handsome oak.

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Claire alerts the others and climbs down to examine him. She pulls on his neckline and discovers a bullet wound, promptly berating him for not saying anything while asking the men for disinfectant to avoid germs. What follows is a round of blank stares and repetition of terms which are obviously unknown in this century:

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Finally Claire hits upon  timeless terminology everyone understands: alcohol. She pours it into the wound, waking Jamie up and causing him to assure everyone that he is all right. What follows is a glorious dressing-down of a grown man by an alpha-female in high dudgeon, and it’s worth recording.

You’re not all right. Couldn’t you tell how badly you were bleeding? You’re lucky you’re not dead, falling and fighting and throwing yourself off horses! All, right, I need a sterile bandage and some clean cloth. [More blank stares.] Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! [rips her shift and holds her hand out for the alcohol]

As she bandages Jamie, wrestling with the bit of shift, she lets out a “Come ON, you GODDAMNED BLOODY BASTARD,” which manages to shock even Dougal, who comments that he has never heard a woman use that sort of language in his life.

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One of the highlanders comments that her husband ought to tan her hide, and another chimes in that St. Paul says ‘Let a woman be silent-’ but he doesn’t finish, because Claire interrupts him, addressing him first, and then Jamie.

You can mind your own bloody business and so can Saint Paul. [To Jamie] And if you move so much as a single muscle while I am tying this bandage, I’ll bloody throttle you!

And the entire time, Jamie stares at her like she just invented ice cream.

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At the end of this, Dougal quietly tells her that they have five to seven hours yet to ride, and they will stay only as long as it takes to stem his bleeding and dress his wound. Claire complains that Jamie needs rest, but Dougal ignores her. It is Jamie himself that explains to her that Randall commands the local militia and will have sent out search parties, so it is not safe to stay put for long. Jamie says he knows him, and would not leave her or any other man to risk becoming his prisoner.

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He tells her if he is not well enough to ride that they should leave him behind with a loaded pistol. Claire tells him that he should have mentioned being shot. “It didna hurt much at the time,” he says with a grin, and Claire asks if it hurts now. At his affirmative, she smiles and says “Good.”

She offers him a hand up, telling him that it is all she can do for him and the rest is up to her. He says, “Thank ye, Sassenach, truly,” and it is auditory chocolate cake to hear that word said out loud.

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She tells him, “Get back on your horse, soldier,” and I am glad she has a super-good looking ally in these crazy, smelly times.

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The next day the party rides towards what is unmistakably Castle Leoch, and hallucinates herself, remembering being there two days ago.

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“Or is that in the future?”, she wonders, asking herself how she could remember something that technically hasn’t happened yet.

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As they enter the grounds, Claire lists the things that have happened to her so far: “assaulted, threatened, kidnapped and nearly raped,” and knows that her journey has only begun.

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Want to keep reading? Here’s a master post of all my Outlander stuff.

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Outlander Photo Recap S1E2, “Castle Leoch”

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.image

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.image

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.image

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.image

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.image

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.image

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.

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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.

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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.image

We ain’t nothing but mammals.

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.

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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.

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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
sprinkles.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Was everyone not RIVETED? If you were not, you are dead inside. DEAD.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Still, it’s only episode 2, so that bastard Auld Alec had to come and ruin our fun.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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WOOKIT DAT FACE. Poor Rupert.

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And it can’t be easy being the one punched, but you wouldn’t know it from this curly little ray of amber sunshine.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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”).

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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“Only if you try to leave,” he rejoins, and after he walks through the door, his brother locks it behind him.

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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.

Thanks for reading! If you like you can follow me here or @conniebv on Twitter.

 

Save

Save

Welp… Arrow Recap E315, “Nanda Parbat”

R’as is busy soaking the leather so it’s pliable when his daughter wanders in to tell him something he already knows, namely that Oliver is alive and didn’t kill Sara.

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Nyssa brings up that her father never approved of Sara, but R’as says it’s because he always knew she’d get the romantic shaft. Nyssa tells him even if Oliver didn’t kill her, he defied him and should die.

Verdant is ‘closed for repairs’ and in the basement, Malcolm fights both Queens at once and eats a sandwich and does his taxes.

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I
get it, he’s good. He criticizes Oliver training with a bow for a sword
fight and I’m sure there’s a euphemism in there. Thea tells him off,
but not as awesomely as Digg does, who tells Malcolm straight
up not to speak to him.

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As Malcolm and Oliver argue about whether or not
to stay in the loft (Thea wants to, so they will), Laurel
walks over to Thea to tell her her fighting style reminds her of Sara, and you can pretty much hear Thea’s internal crying.

Diggle
catches Oliver alone to ask him if he is sleeping and Oliver is all
I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD which at this point is every Wednesday circa
7pm.

***FLASHBACK
ALERT***General Shrieve debriefs Oliver and tells him that Amanda
Waller and A.R.G.U.S. are off the Omega cleanup, and that he
can return to Japan with the Yamashiros and from there to anywhere he
likes, thanking him for his service. It’s such a polite exchange that you know it’s gonna go to hell.

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***END FB***

Thea sits at the
bar at Verdant and comes clean to Roy, despite being told not to talk to
anyone. Do you, Ms. Queen. Roy tells her in turn about killing the police officer under
the Mirakuru and how he wishes he didn’t know, though it gets easier.

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Thea doesn’t think it should, and points out he doesn’t have to see the cop’s family every day.

At Ray’s apartment, Felicity
shows
up because he hasn’t been to work in a week and someone probably called
the police because of the smell.

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He can’t get the suit to
work and won’t sleep or eat because obsessive superheros are
Felicity-bait. He says he needs to focus and asks her to go.

Laurel
leaves a message for her father, who we can assume is not speaking to
her because OH YEAH YOU LIED TO HIM FOR MONTHS ABOUT YOUR DEAD SISTER
OMFG LET THE MAN PROCESS. Thea shows up and tells her the truth about
her role in Sara’s death.

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To Laurel’s credit she doesn’t immediately
make this about herself, telling Thea that if she didn’t get a say in her
involvement up to this point, she certainly can do so going forward, and
that she doesn’t need to feel obligated to work with Merlyn.

At the Foundry, Laurel
shows up and tricks Oliver into admitting that he knew about Thea’s
part in Sara’s death, calling him out on how easily he lies to her.

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I
can’t hate here, they are both right. Laurel is hurt that he didn’t stop
to think of how protecting Merlyn reads for her (not good), and Oliver that she
won’t understand that he’s acting on behalf of a sister that
he still has a chance to save. When Laurel tells him that it’s hard to
remember a time she loved him, I don’t even want to cheer.

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Even if the
character has annoyed me endlessly, she was at the very least a
supporter and a friend, someone who had faith in him, and Oliver is burning these bridges pretty quickly.

Oliver
comes home to confront his sister, only to find
that the danger he keeps bringing up to her no longer exists. Thea
proved her bloodline on both sides by making a strategic move: turning
Malcolm in to the League.

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Anyone who underestimates her, Oliver
included, needs to remember that Ms. Queen is ICE COLD when crossed.

In an alley, Laurel is
dumb enough to think she could get the drop on Malcolm. He both
physically and mentally slays her, making fun for thinking she
could “dispatch him with a stick”.

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She denies it, pulling out a gun, but
never gets to use it on him. LoA members drop from above, and Nyssa
tells Laurel to step aside. I love how no one calls her Canary despite
being in full regalia. Malcolm tries to fight Nyssa, but she bests him.
As he is dragged away, unconscious, Nyssa’s all ‘I got this’ to Laurel. Maybe she can still catch a movie or something.

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Back

in the Cave, Oliver walks in AAAAALLL ticked off, looking for Laurel.
I may or may not have replayed his anger strut several time. Laurel
tells him she didn’t give a damn about him saying that Merlyn
was off-limits, and he finally lets her have it. He lies to her, he
says,
because she makes decisions based on her emotions, and that will get
her killed.

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Sure it’s criticism of Laurel, but it’s even better insight
into Oliver. She is committing what in his eyes is THE cardinal sin of
superhero-dom:
putting her own desires ahead of the common good. Oliver cares deeply,
but he acts strategically-you could mistake
it for a lack of emotion, but it isn’t: it’s discipline, honed
by hard
years and hard circumstances. Fighting technique is the least of
Laurel’s problems, frankly. She isn’t a hero yet because her motives are
selfish, and her personal desires trump everything else around her.
She’s got to undergo a radical change of attitude before she can wear
that suit with anything but irony, IMHO.

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So
Merlyn is captured, and while
Laurel is satisfied with the status quo, Oliver knows his
next step is rescuing Merlyn so Thea is not responsible for his death.
Felicity and Laurel both object, but Oliver explains himself to Felicity
saying that Thea acted out of anger, and there would be no coming
back from being responsible for her father’s death. When he says that
the guilt would “eat away at  her until there’s nothing left,” he’s not
just hypothesizing, and they both know it. “Please,” he says quietly,
and when
Felicity says she will help, he closes his eyes in relief. Ugh, my
heart.

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Laurel, who heard the same thing he just told Felicity, thinks Oliver is out of his mind and he snaps at her that she
doesn’t need to be there. In all fairness, she never really needed to be there. She just keeps showing up.

Felicity finds out that Starling Aviation’s cameras just went dark, and Oliver heads out to investigate.

***FB
ALERT*** Oliver and the Yamashiros are on the docks getting ready to
leave for Japan on a boat Oliver hates when Maseo notices they’ve been
set up and starts shooting while everyone else takes cover. Honorable
mention here to Stephen Amell’s jeans.

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BLESS. ***END FB***

On an
airstrip, Malcolm faces Nyssa and decides to deploy some psychological
warfare.
He tells her that her relationship with Sara cost her the
chance to succeed her father, and she must know it.

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Oliver shows up to
save Malcolm, and though he manages to neutralize and capture Nyssa, her
Assassins get a fighting Merlyn onto a helicopter and take off.
Proving that swordsmanship isn’t the only thing they teach in Nanda
Parbat, Nyssa takes the opportunity to rub her victory in Oliver’s face.

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Back

at the Foundry, Nyssa meditates in her cage while Oliver explains to
the team that
even if R’as won’t trade her for Merlyn, she is still a source of
information and leverage. He politely asks for the room, letting others
assume he will torture the location of Nanda Parbat out of her.

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He asks
twice, but no
one leaves the room until John tells them to because FYES DIGG. Before
he leaves, Diggle tells
Oliver he can’t save Thea’s soul at the price of his own, and really,
everyone else can just leave because John is everything. Alone with his prisoner, Oliver knows torture isn’t necessary. Nyssa wants
him to go to Nanda Parbat, confident that once he gets there he will be
killed for obstructing Malcolm’s capture and she is pretty okay with
that.

Upstairs
the team looks at their new security and Felicity lets slip to Laurel
about the jail on Lian Yu.

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Oliver pops in with the location info and why
Nyssa gave it to him, and they all list reasons why they think going is
a bad idea. Roy doesn’t think a brother’s death would guilt Thea any
less than a father’s, Laurel is
angry at him but not enough to want him on a suicide mission, and
Felicity cautions him that the last time he went not-meaning-to-die’ing
he
actually did die.

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Oliver looks around and notices that John
has yet to give an opinion. Diggle asks everyone to leave them alone,
and the look on this poor baby’s face when she realizes she is not being
taken into account on this decision is just UGH.

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My heart
breaks for Felicity, who wants so badly to feel important and heard. You
can tell by her face as she leaves that she takes note of the fact that
she is not included in a conversation that she previously would have
been part of.
Once alone, Digg tells Oliver that he understands his reasons for going,
but he
feels like there is something else at play. Oliver denies it, saying it
is all about Thea, and of course that means he is lying because he used
oxygen to make words.

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At Ray’s apartment, he can’t access the Palmer Tech
server because Felicity, eager to save SOMEONE from a bad decision, has
locked the servers until he gets some sleep and takes a shower. Ray’s
too tired to argue, so he says OK.

At Casa Diggle, Baby Sara is
still precious and Lyla is still a BAMF.

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When John tells her Oliver is
going to Nanda Parbat, she knows that as a soldier, it goes against his
grain to let his friend go into battle alone. She generously tells
Diggle
that she doesn’t want to see him blame himself if something were to
happen to Oliver and tells him to go with him.

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Just a moment to point
out that this is what acceptance and support of your partner looks like,
folks. You gotta know and love what you have. Diggle asks to borrow the
A.R.G.U.S. jet.

At Verdant, Ollie tries to sneak out when Thea
catches him, thanks to both Roy and Laurel snitching. She is afraid he will die, but
he tells her that he is doing it for her, to spare her the guilt of
knowing that her actions caused her father’s death. “Both of our parents
are dead because of me,” he says, and he doesn’t want that for
her.

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Despite the fact that she begs him in tears, he smiles and says he
will be back as soon as he can, and leaves. Hero, guys. Greater good.

Outside
Verdant, Diggle waits for Oliver to tell him he has a jet waiting, and
when Oliver mentions that he couldn’t ask him to come, Diggle points out
that he didn’t. If Oliver is Starling’s hero, John Diggle is Oliver
Queen’s hero.

In Nanda Parbat, R’as pontificates and Merlyn
begs for his life. Seriously, what is Arabic for bitch-ass? Even The
Demon’s Head is all, ‘Dude. Have some dignity.’

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He tells Malcolm that he
can only pay in suffering and blood, and that he will not enjoy
watching it. Malcolm gets dragged away, and he doesn’t go quietly.

Felicity
wanders around Ray’s apartment when he comes out of the shower.

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He
thanks her for taking care of him and pretty much sets about validating
every aspect of her personality that she feels Oliver slights: her
judgement, her ability to call him on his BS, and finally echoes the
magical words that Oliver once said to her on that date so long ago: he
sees her as a person. He doesn’t even get to finish his sentence before
she launches herself at him. She pulls away and apologizes, but he’s in
and it’s on.

I know the Raylicity sex upset some people and visual aids always help me, so let me draw this out for you.

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Because

that is EXACTLY what is going
on. Palmer is getting the poison out with a trusted friend and Felicity
is scratching an itch she got from too much fern cuddling. That’s IT. As
a matter of fact, feel free to imagine a cardboard cutout of Oliver
right next to Felicity every time they interact from now until the
inevitable breakup. They will likely try to give this a go in the
interest of not admitting that neither of them is the least bit
interested in a relationship with each other and dragging out the
Olicity angst, but the Ray character is problematic in so many ways, and
this only makes the situation worse. I don’t blame Felicity-he is
attractive and she’s lonely and single, but don’t expect me for a moment
to think she caught feelings: Ray is such a hard rebound they should
award his ass
points. So they sleep together, and I’m glad she got a workout but I
didn’t even flinch, it is such a non-event emotionally as to be
laughable. There was more emotion in the one long look she shared with
Oliver than in the entire sex scene.

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As long as I’m talking about it, let me take a moment
to address the other half of this ship. Now Olicity is my endgame, and
yes, I believe that they love each other but even though it’s a worthy
goal to love and be loved, I honestly don’t think it is the motivating
factor in character growth, nor should it be-especially Oliver’s. If the
theme of the season is identity, then love is more the icing than the
cake itself, as well it should be. The thing
about love-and I can say this because I am old and I know
the songs are true-the greatest love of all is inside of you.
Oliver
loves deeply, and truly, and he is committed past all reason to
everyone…except himself. Until Oliver realizes that his inner life is
worth the care and time investment that he puts into his crime-fighting
life, there will be no happiness for him, with Felicity or anyone
else.

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His entire identity is wrapped up in an ideal he keeps (in
his own mind) falling short of, and while he forgives and understands
others (Laurel, Roy) who on occasion fall short, he doesn’t allow
himself the same benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, nothing
will happen without that faith in himself, without the belief that his
happiness is as worthy an investment as the happiness of others.  It
can’t be Felicity, or Thea, or the memory of his dead parents, or John
Diggle or any other person he cares about. It comes down to the basic
truth that one has to love themselves first before they can love anyone
else. You have to feel that you merit love, that you deserve
fulfillment. Only Oliver
Queen can keep his light on. He’s not there yet by a long shot, but when
he does, the rest will fall into place as easily as breathing.

In
Nanda Parbat, Oliver and Digg fail to get the jump on the guards, and
race inside to try to save Malcolm before R’as finds out they are there.

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***FB
ALERT***Oliver covers the Yamashiros as they run to a truck nearby in
an effort to escape what has become a full shootout. ***END FB***

Laurel
visits Nyssa, who has some peace from knowing that Malcolm is being
punished, and that his “last hours will be spent in agony.” Laurel just
knows that once it is over, she has even less of her sister to hang on
to. She asks Nyssa if she remembers Sara’s smile, and she tells her the
story of when Sara first met her father and laughed with joy at his show
of intimidation. That is when Nyssa fell in love, and Laurel thanks her
for the story. It’s a sweet moment, and it humanizes Nyssa’s anger.
This was the love of her life.

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Nanda Parbat. Diggle and Oliver
find Merlyn unconscious and suspended above hot coals. When they try to
cut him down he wakes up just enough to mumble “Trap…” The three men
are locked behind a metal door. R’as walks over and welcomes them
because he’s nothing if not polite and super old.

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Later on,
Oliver and John wake up chained to the floor. Oliver is upset that he
brought Diggle there to die, but he finally understands why they came.

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For Thea, yes, but also because Oliver is haunted by the memory of his
fall and the knowledge that there is someone out there that beat him.
Moment of silence for a rare Oliver Queen truth bomb. It isn’t letting
him live, he confesses, ashamed that it is “egotistical and insane” to
think as he does.

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John says that so is putting on a mask, and that it is
part of the mindset of a soldier: you have to believe that you are
coming home, or fear will paralyze you. “R’as got in your head,” he
tells Oliver, who doesn’t deny it. Instead he asks him about the favor
he mentioned earlier, and Diggle’s speech, like the man himself, is full
of dry wit, sentiment and probably shouldn’t make me cry (BUT IT DID):

I
always assumed if I ever got married again that Andy would be by my
side. But I lost my brother. I never thought I’d get another one. So
pretending for a moment that we aren’t two dead men chained to the
floor… How do you feel about being my best man?

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Oliver
says that he feels pretty good about it, and damn if I am not happy
these two found each other. Oliver desperately needs someone to look up
to. The door opens, and Maseo arrives to tell Oliver that it’s time to
see R’as. I almost don’t care that they are going to ‘die’ because this moment was so beautiful.

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***FB ALERT***Maseo & Tatsu, trapped by
gunfire, trust Oliver with getting their son out of the line of fire,
telling him they will find him later. ***END FB***

Somewhere in
Starling, Roy drives Thea to the officer’s house, and shows her his
child and widow. It turns out he gives them groceries and other gifts
anonymously, and it helps him with the guilt of what he did. Thea
appreciates it, but tells him that maybe a killer is what she is because
he taught her to be one. Even if Roy doesn’t believe it, he is quiet
when she tells him that she sent her own father to his death, and asks
him to take her home. Special mention to the car, which is exactly the
kind of car Roy would be if he were a Transformer.

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At Ray’s
apartment, he wakes up and sneaks out from under Felicity to work. This
is how all the best relationships start. He gets into the servers and
finally puts the Atom suit on. The music wants me to think that it is
really exciting but it is basically a diving suit with car parts on it,
and NO. Nothing about this character excites me, and the damn thing can
fly. The only thought I had was:

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He even flies right outside the window where Felicity is sleeping,
and in a visual representation of what I am feeling, she rolls over and
keeps sleeping. No one cares, Ray.

Thea arrives in the basement to
tell Nyssa that she lied to her about Malcolm killing Sara. She
explains that even if he was the one that set the plan in motion, she
fired the arrows, and offers her a sword so that she can take her
vengeance.

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In Nanda Parbat, R’as comments on Oliver coming again
to seek his death, and when he unsheaths his sword, Oliver says that he
can kill him, “but spare John Diggle’s life. Let him go. I will beg for
it.” Even Maseo lifts his eyebrows like WTF because coming from Oliver,
this is about as flowery as you get. R’as however, doesn’t want to kill
Oliver. He compliments his “strength, fortitude, and power” and then
drops his bomb: he wants Oliver to take his place as leader of the
League of Assassins.

And that’s it for a few weeks! Thanks for reading till the end! Sharing is love, and I always love comments!

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Aloha! Arrow Photo Recap E314, “The Return”

I usually don’t take photos of the flashbacks, but this week most of the happy fun times were back in 2010 Starling. Open on Lian Yu, Where Oliver and Thea are basically killing time between angsty memories and mosquito bites.

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Oliver complains that Malcolm taught Thea to cheat, and Thea answers that that is silly because Malcolm doesn’t think anything is cheating as long as
you’re breathing at the end. Oliver can’t really disagree.

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After
eating some lobster-chicken hybrid I don’t want to think about too much
(is Lian Yu irradiated?) the siblings talk about the island and how
Oliver and his sister no longer have secrets except for THAT ONE. Thea
asks her brother if he ever thought he’d be back in Starling when he was
there before, and that takes us to…..

***FLASHBACK
ALERT*** Waller briefs Maseo and Oliver on Chien Na Wei’s purpose for
being in Starling, which is to sell the Omega bioweapon and have a
badass headsuit. Turns out one of the bidders for the formula works with
Queen Consolidated, so Amanda needs Oliver, but threatens him with much
deading if he contacts his family, plus she’ll nix anyone he contacts.

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Goddamnit, Amanda, you actually make it worse when you explain.

Somewhere
in a bar Quentin grows hair and feels sad. Even sadder is when Laurel
shows up to figure out why he isn’t at work, and we see Lance drunk, who
is frankly less depressed than Lance sober so at least there’s that.

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Oliver
and Maseo follow their man to QC and Maseo is telling him he has to
sneak in to get some files off his company computer with his magic
fingers when Oliver is distracted by someone coming out of the building.

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***END FB***

Night
on the island, and Thea wakes Oliver up when he mutters Sara’s name in
his sleep. She asks him why he never mentioned she died, and he tells
her that Sara had secrets that weren’t his to share. When she asks if
the LoA killed her, he goes to take a walk at night through a scary
landmine island to clear his head. This makes perfect sense because
Oliver is part owl. I lied. This makes no sense. He goes to the
A.R.G.U.S. containment cell to gruff monologue at Slade, except Slade
isn’t there.

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Oliver
remembers the very specific shade he threw after he locked him up, and
sprints to find his one still-living family member. He’s all GOTTA
BOUNCE and tells Thea that he was keeping him prisoner there. Malcolm
takes this chance to call and tell Oliver that yep, you guessed it, he
freed Slade so Oliver can revisit Season 1 and then tells him his cell
will no longer work in a minute.

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Oliver
negates the function issue by going full Hulk on the phone, and even if
both siblings think Malcolm is insane, so is Slade, so they run.

***FB
ALERT*** Oliver and Maseo watch Thea go visit his and his dad’s graves
(Awww!) and score drugs (UGGHHH…). Tommy shows up to scare off her
drug dealer and warn her that his birthday party that night is 21 and
over.

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Thea
“you’re not my brother”’s him and he says Oliver seeing her like this
would break his heart. She says that he seems to care about her more
dead than he did alive, and I remember how much I hated entitled addict
Thea and just how bangable Tommy was. In the bushes, Oliver watches and
haz a sad.

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***END FB***

On
the island, Oliver runs with Thea to his father’s grave, so he can
lovingly dig up the gun he hid there. He gives it to his sister in case
she needs it, and sees Slade’s tracks. He warns her, but it’s too late.
Slade comes at him from the trees and knocks him out, and Thea soon
after. At least he remembers to say a polite hello.

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When
Oliver wakes up, he and Thea are in Slade’s cell, where he informs them
they will stay, unhurt because he is going to kill a couple in a car
fire and let the city believe they are gone while they rot in his cell.
Oliver tells him to keep him and let Thea go, but anyone who has been
through Villains 101 knows that dog won’t hunt. Slade says he’s lucky
she isn’t dead and asks Thea if she knows about Shado.

Thea
talks some pretty good smack about him being a sick SOB and her voice
gets all anger-deep like her brother’s and it’s ADORABLE but this isn’t
only an enemy-it’s an enemy that was once a friend, and Slade knows just
what to say. He tells her her brother “likes his secrets” and that if
he had told him what had happened to Shado, maybe Moira would still be
alive. Oliver loses it and shouts, “That’s ENOUGH!”, which Slade takes
as his cue to model-walk away and leave him shouting after him, the same
as Oliver once did to him.

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***FB
ALERT*** Oliver sneaks into QC and man their security must suck. He
very believably is still in the finger-reading system and no one will
ever look to see whose finger accessed the files and this all made
perfect sense so just BELIEVE IT. He finds a couple of files in a
private folder of his father’s called “For Thea” and “For Oliver” and
downloads them onto a drive.

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Maseo
warns him to scoot because someone is coming, but he hides instead and
OMG it’s S1 Felicity, whose looser ponytail and goofiness I miss. She
sees a picture of a frankly demonic Oliver and it must be fated, you
guys, because she tells it (and the man himself, listening) that he is
cute, pity he’s dead, and a quick reminder to herself that it is more a
problem for him than her (wait five years!) and that she really needs to
stop talking to herself.

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Her
metahuman babble powers have the intended effect of making both us and
Oliver’s wig smile but I can’t say I regret them not meeting at this
point, because Oliver is nowhere ready to value this little treasure.

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Maseo
looks at the info Oliver lifted and tells Amanda that the meeting for
the bid is in 4 hours. When she asks about Oliver, he says he probably
is “checking on the weapons.” Haha, no.

At the Merlyn mansion, the
brothers Diggle grump at each other and look like a fine pair of
bookends while working security for his party. Andy Diggle has maybe
five lines total (chiding his brother for being an ingrate and calling
him ‘ayou big dummy’ for divorcing Lyla being the best) but they are all
GOLD.

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You
can see where John’s patience and teasing with Oliver comes from: he is
modeling his brother. Andy even notices the homeless dude walking into
the party with a dirty green hoodie! My respects to Momma Diggle, and I
HATE YOU H.I.V.E.

Inside, Oliver watches Tommy hit on vegan
girls when Laurel shows up. Ollie doesn’t seem real torn up about it. I
personally liked Laurel best with Tommy, and damn it this show kills
all the wrong people. Thea shows up with a fake ID but a thirst for club
soda, and meets up with her drug dealer because that’s Classic Thea.

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Oliver
catches the transaction from upstairs and confronts the guy when he
comes up. The dude recognizes him, and Oliver busts out two aspects of
the early Hood: growly voice and a willingness to kill because it’s
convenient and he feels minimally justified doing so. He snaps the guy’s neck and tosses him over.

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I guess that’s one way to stay under the radar. ***END FB***

In
the cell on Lian-Yu, Thea confronts Oliver about his plan for an escape
and the secrets Slade says he is still hiding from her. He tries to
distract her by pointing out Slade is crayfish but she knows this, and also
how to read his face by now which is why she can tell he’s lying.

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He stalls, saying it’s not the time, and
as Thea lets him have it about thinking of her as a “tiny, fragile,
little thing” you can see the lightbulb go off in Oliver’s mind. The
prison was made to trap grown men. They never planned on a small woman. Thea tries to reach the failsafe unlock, but her reach is a bit short.

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One dislocated shoulder later (which she hilariously consents to), Thea
hits the release on the wall and the siblings are free. Teamwork! As
they climb up, Oliver tells Thea that Malcolm likely told Slade they
flew in, and it’s how he plans to get back.

***FB ALERT***The
police are at Tommy’s interviewing the attendees, and cranky drunk
Quentin takes the opportunity to dress everyone down (“Robin Hood”, “a
little too young” Thea, “Douchebag” Tommy) including his daughter, who
he calls out for having a thing for rich playboys who kill her sister.

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It’s a solid point, but just as he tells Thea he can’t decide if she is
more like Sara or Oliver and points out “how one little boat ride can
turn everybody’s lives to crap,” Maseo shows up with a gun to tell
Oliver he has to go back.

Inside, Quentin tells Laurel that even
if he embarrasses her, at least he isn’t a gold digger that went to San
Francisco for the money after her sister died.

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He reminds her that she went into law to help people, not to help “fat
cats get fatter’. Laurel points out that she might value this more if he
“wasn’t so lit”, but he shoots back that he doesn’t have to be sober to
spot a fake lawyer see what she’s doing with her life.

Outside,
Maseo makes fun of Oliver’s disguise skills and tells him about the bid
plans, but Oliver doesn’t care. He tells him in a loud and very high
and grating pitch that this is his chance to redeem some of the damage
done to his friends and family. Maseo points out the people that will
die if the bio-weapon is exchanged, but Oliver points out those people
are strangers, while he has a chance to save family and friends. “They would be ashamed of the selfish choice you are
making,” Maseo tells him.

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Oliver wins, but gets his handshake hand left high and dry when Maseo
gets in the car and leaves without saying goodbye. ***END FB***

Daylight
on the island. Thea finds a path and almost gets herself shish-ka-bob’d
by her ‘pyscho’ brother’s trap. Oliver pulls a stake out of his arm and
wants to keep going, but Thea asks him to rest for a couple of minutes
so he doesn’t pass out when they run into Slade. Because this is SUPER
restful, she takes this moment to ask about what Slade said. Oliver
argues that they need to focus, but she says that worrying about what he
is keeping from her is preventing that. “Malcolm killed Sara,” he says
quietly.

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She denies it, and says he was on Corto with her. Oliver
explains in careful, gentle detail: Not directly, he used a person and
drugged her so she wouldn’t know what she was doing. When she hears it
was a female, the light starts to dawn for Thea.

Thea: She? She WHO?

Oliver: …You killed Sara.

Thea
is distraught, and yells at her brother for not telling her. “You
weren’t you!” he replies, “You had no control over your actions! You
cannot blame yourself.” My heart breaks for these two, alone and so
tuned into each other in such a sh*t-fest of a situation, and especially
for Thea, who values control as much as Oliver and has had so very
little of it in her life, always taken away by those she values most.
She shouts that Oliver was right, Malcolm never loved her, and she is
“an idiot”. By the time she echoes most of our thoughts and shouts “LIAN
YU? What are we even DOING here?” she is good and ticked, so when Slade
sneaks up and holds a gun to her, he doesn’t expect what comes next.

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Before Oliver can even fully get up, Thea extricates herself and takes
his gun, pistol-whipping him. He actually smiles and compliments her on
her progress before Oliver tackles him and they roll down the hill in a
SUPERHOT pile.

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Oliver does okay before Slade dirtydog punches him in his
wound, and after a couple of go-arounds with both siblings, he pins
Oliver and reminds him that he keeps his promises. This is when Thea
hits him with a log and takes the gun out, pointing it at his head as he
kneels at her feet.

***FB ALERT***

Merlyn mansion. I miss
this place so much. It had really flattering lighting. Oliver walks
through his house looking like a refugee from the BeeGees and settles in
a comfy chair to look at his father’s Skype from The Beyond.

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My already
abused heart lets out a tired sigh when he smiles at hearing his father
say his name. Bless Jamey Sheridan, who I totally believe as someone who would have spawned a specimen like Oliver. In less than thirty seconds, Oliver re-finds his purpose, and a movement its mission statement:

Hello,
Oliver. Well I told myself I was recording this just in case I died
suddenly, but I wonder if it isn’t just easier to…say what I have to
say to a video camera. I’m not the man you think I am, Oliver. I didn’t
save our city…I failed it. I did something terrible and in my efforts
to make it right I ignored my conscience and allied myself with terrible
people. There’s a book…a book with a list of all their names, these
people. I always told myself everything I did, I did for my family.
That’s a lie, because what good is a family…without a soul? You can
right my wrongs. You…can be better than I was. You can save this city.
I love you.

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This poor bastard. Oliver, now and
forever conditioned and motivated to put selfish things behind him,
gives up his happiness in the interest of the greater good.

At the
site of the future Verdant, China White sets up her armageddauction,
and continues to calmly rachet up her price as her gunmen shoot at the
A.R.G.U.S. operatives above her. You have to love her panache.

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Maseo is
brought down to her so she can order him killed, but thankfully Oliver
picks that moment to come kick ass. China escapes to her car and gives
orders for the Yamashiros to “die tonight”. Oliver finds the spy that
works for his family, and when he sees the bio-weapon chained to it,
calmly tells him he has a choice to make: whether or not he wants to
keep that hand. ***END FB***

Back on Lian Yu, Slade and what has
got to be his FILTHY eyepatch taunt Thea to shoot. She remembers that he
killed her mother and all those other people, but Oliver says he is
paying for that, and she is not a killer. “Tell that to Sara,” she says.

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Oliver, anguished, puts it as simply as he can, in the moral
shorthand they both share now. “What happened to Sara was NOT ON YOU.
What happens to him IS.” He says that Malcolm set Slade free to prove
that they are both killers, and she needs to prove to him that she is
not. As the screen goes dark, a shot rings out.

Back in the
A.R.G.U.S. cell, Slade sports a bandage on his arm and tells Thea that
she is not the killer her brother is. Thea is all AS IF, and leaves the
two men alone. Slade thoughtfully tells Oliver his sister is lost, even
if he denies it, and that she was touched by darkness.

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He asks if Malcolm did it, and mentions that he is an
“interesting man, to do that to his own daughter.” Oliver says nothing,
conscious that he knows too much about his family already. Slade lists
the people he has lost: father, mother, “and now your little sister.”
Oliver turns to leave, but Slade’s next words stop him in his tracks.
“How’s the girl with the glasses? What’s her name… Felicity?”

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Relaxed now that Oliver’s every muscle is tense, Slade
pads to his bed like a tired panther and tosses himself on it, wondering
out loud “How many people can Oliver Queen lose before there is no more
Oliver Queen?” You intelligent bastard, I both love AND hate you. R’as
may have almost killed him, but there is no one that scares Oliver more,
and it is thrilling to see.

***FB ALERT*** Oliver waits in a
hotel room to tell Amanda he is staying now that she has the Omega back,
but she says it’s not up to either of them. Enter Gen. Matthew Shrieve,
who has come to take Oliver to China to debrief him.

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He tells Oliver
that after this is done, he will take him “anywhere in the world he
wants to go.” Oliver accepts mutely, already starting to not give
fucks.

On the street outside CNRI, Tommy checks in on Laurel and
wants to talk to her about accepting a job there over dinner. As they
flirt and he says that the only 3 little words he has ever used on a
woman are “it’s just dinner,” I note the Stemily-like chemistry between
Colin O’Donnell and Katie Cassidy, and cry quietly into my keyboard.

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***
END FB ***

Night in Starling City. Laurel finds Quentin at Sara’s
grave and finds out that her mother already knows she is gone. He has a
bottle, which he hasn’t drunk, and snaps at Laurel, calling her “Black
Canary” for the first time. She reminds him that he was angry with her
once for not helping people, and that her life was always “headed toward
this mask”.

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He says that that isn’t what is making him want to drink.
He reminds her that her mother and Sara were alike, two “wild spirits”
but that they were alike too, that they had a bond, and she broke it.
“I’m gonna survive this. God has my baby girl, but what you did…I
don’t know how I’m going to live through this.” Laurel, worried,
suggests they go to a meeting. Lance agrees, and tells her which meeting
to go to so he can go to a different one, hands her the bottle, and
walks away. Laurel pauses for only a moment before pouring it out.

Thea
and Oliver arrive back home, and he wants to talk. “What do you want to
hear,” an exhausted Thea says. “Nothing,” he answers, and you guys I
just fucking love them. She is battered, done for, hurt, and wants to
know what he needs from her. He is worried, heartsick and guilty and
wants her to know he doesn’t need anything. LOVE Y’ALL. He does ask her
not to say anything to Laurel, because it would hurt both of them and
she loves her like a sister.

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Thea asks if Laurel knows about Malcolm, and
Oliver answers no, because it would complicate things and despite
everything, they still need him. “I agree,” Malcolm says creepily from
the shadows. Damn it, man! Knock a damn door!

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He responds to Oliver’s
accusation that they could have been killed with the assertion that he
has more faith in them than they do themselves. Thea asks him how he
could do that, and when he thinks she is talking about the island, she
clarifies she meant to make her “kill a friend.” Malcolm, always on the
pulse of the truly important stuff, gets mad at Oliver for telling her
and somehow rationalizes that it is because she is his daughter and he
cares about her.

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Thea, however, doesn’t let him off the hook. She says
she trusted him, and calls the LoA threat an excuse, and says the only
person she is scared of is him. She promises to work with him because
it’s what her brother says they need to do, but with conditions. “I will
be your student. I will be your partner. Even if I have to, I will be
your soldier…but never again will I be your daughter.”

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Baby girl is not to be trifled with.

Meow. Arrow Recap E313, “Canaries”

Last week’s episode was hard to watch over and over again, if only because it was so freaking depressing on every single angle, but this episode brought me back in terms of the balance I like to see on this show, so I felt like I could tackle a recap. Fair warning, you may not agree with my viewpoint and I have seen a lot of complaints about others’ opinions on the show as well, but hopefully we can all agree with the fact that involvement is better than apathy, and that we all have a right to think whatever. That said, on with the recap!

Cold open, Classic Canary vs. New Canary. Not sure why they decided to open with this. You named the episode “Canaries” for crying out loud writers, no need to literally beat it into us. Still, it gave me the chance to see how badass Caity Lotz is again, and that’s good.

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Someone must have sent fan mail to the Arrow offices because there’s no truck or alley. Instead, Oliver and Roy chase a perp over rooftops and ultimately get hero c-blocked by Laurel, who I think beats this dude way more than necessary. Oliver pulls her to the side and basically tells her he doesn’t think she’s a hero.

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So Laurel’s solution is to avoid each other in the meantime because it’s way too early in the ep for any kind of sensible resolution.

At the lair, Digg explains to grumpy/protective/control freak Oliver that Laurel never really asked his opinion about suiting up, but he signed off because she “can handle herself out there.”

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Felicity interrupts them to announce Malcolm, Oliver’s “new BFF,” who once again waltzes in because MAGICIAN.

Oliver’s never really happy, but he’s even less happy when Malcolm says the League is aware of his return and likely to strike, so it’s time to tell Thea the truth about her brother so they can join forces to fight the LoA.

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Oliver doesn’t want to and neither does Digg, who warns Oliver he’ll lose her. Malcolm gets in one more good jab at Oliver being a failed businessman, and that’s kind of low.

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***FB ALERT*** Maseo and Tatsu are fleeing Hong Kong, and warn Oliver that he needs to contact his family and the press so that Waller can’t find and torture him. He tells him he is taking his family on a ferry to Shanghai and asks Oliver to save himself, now that he has saved them. ***END FB***

Werner Zytle is outside the courthouse giving a gibberish quote when the guard holding him starts shooting the press.

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Laurel knocks him out, but not before Zytle escapes. Welcome back, Vertigo! There hasn’t been enough grandstanding lately.

At Verdant, Chase tries to get into Thea’s pants in a super obvious way and she calls him on it. Someone’s got to assume the creep-mantle, I guess.

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She hugs Oliver as he comes in, and he quietly tells her he has to show her something. What follows is one of the best-acted scenes on this show ever, which is becoming a standard with Willa Holland and Stephen Amell. Oliver tells Thea that he lied when he said the basement was flooded, and unlocks the door, leading her downstairs in the dark.

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Thea tells him he is making her nervous, and the beat that Oliver takes before flipping the lights on is where you can feel him doing what he does best: biting the bullet and taking one in name of the greater good. Thea walks slowly in as her brother says that she may not believe him, but he lied all this time to protect her.

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She nods her head once calmly to acknowledge what he said, and I love her so much in that moment. Post-Corto Maltese Thea Queen is hands-down THE MOST rational character this season. She takes everything into account so calmly before she reaches conclusions (one of the reasons the eventual reveal of her hand in the death of Sara CRUSHES ME) and even if she hardly ever goes atomic, it’s clear from Oliver’s expression that he expects the worst.

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Thea stops in front of the glass case with the Arrow costume and it becomes clear to her. “The Arrow… you’re him.” And as she lists the times he saved her, lied to her, and when she was angry at him for being a flake, she realizes that every time, he was saving a life. She turns to him with tears in her eyes and hugs him, saying what hardly anyone ever does: “Thank you.”

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Oliver is in shock, and it’s heartbreaking, because I realize watching this that this is a guy that has resigned himself to everything in his life going to shit, and it’s beautiful and wonderful and COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED TO HIM that his sister has showed him faith and understanding. Oh, Oliver, you poor broken bastard. You prepared for everything except someone understanding.

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Back at their apartment, Oliver is telling Thea about how his mother knew and she jokes about kicking his ass (His answer: “You didn’t.”). Thea asks why he was looking for Malcolm that night. Oliver reveals that he and Malcolm know each other, and Malcolm walks in as Oliver tells her that R’as Al Ghul is after all of them, and they need to work together and trust each other. Thea is not having it. She accuses Malcolm of manipulating her and trying to drive a wedge between she and her brother.

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She takes off, and Malcolm tells Oliver, whose phone rings just a moment after, to let her go.

***FB ALERT*** Oliver manages to call his mother and leave a voice mail asking her to issue a press release & that he isn’t dead, but soon after A.R.G.U.S. captures him because NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS to this dude. *** END FB***

In the Cave, Felicity shows Oliver the video of Zytle’s escape. Laurel comes in and tells them that the guard got dosed by a reporter, and when Oliver asks Felicity for his address she snaps that she’s on it. Still mad, then.

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Oliver doesn’t want Laurel to come along, and asks her to step outside. Say what you will about his social skills, but I have to say I appreciate that Oliver has the sensitivity to have this conversation in private. Basically he brings up that she is an addict and that she is using adrenaline to mask the pain of losing her sister.

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Laurel is like “HOW DARE YOU” but it’s not a bad point, so she does what she does best and tosses it back at him saying if anyone is “using adrenaline to hide the pain of real feelings and real life,” it’s him. Whaaaaaaat??

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Newsflash: Oliver isn’t masking dick. He is genuinely a pretty unhappy bastard who has all the feelings all the time and it is transparently obvious to anyone who knows him.

Roy and Oliver go hunt down the reporter who helped Zytle escape, but it turns out he threatened to kill his wife unless he killed them, and shows them C4 strapped to his chest.

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Oliver tries to convince him to give him the detonator, but he pushes the button instead, and both our heroes are blasted out the windows and land on cars below. Zytle watches from a nearby car and gives himself a mental high-five.

When Oliver gets home, he and Thea have a nice chat about his night (“Barbeque?” “C4.”) and how he does what he does. Oliver considers protecting the people of Starling City his job, and that includes Thea.

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He tells her that Malcolm is their best chance of defeating R’as and while she believes him, she says can’t and won’t trust Merlyn.

***FB ALERT*** Oliver gets waterboarded like a mofo and boy I hope someone kills Waller soon. She tells Oliver they erased his VM before she heard it, and finally threatens Thea. Oliver caves and tells her the Yamashiros are on the ferry to Shanghai. ***END FB***

Quentin drops off some files for Laurel and asks if she’s heard from her sister. Not only was she “off” when he saw her a few weeks back, and tells her that Cyn said the woman in black isn’t Sara. Laurel plays dumb, and he tells her that he promised her he would take it easy, and leaves.

At Verdant, Thea questions Roy about his fashion and how she didn’t recognize her brother with a hood. Thea brings up that Oliver thinks they need Merlyn, and I want to kiss him when he asks her “And what do you think?”

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She says that she wants to run as far from Merlyn as she can and he tells her that’s her answer. Oliver comes to collect Roy and Thea tells him that apparently “he’s been more yours than mine lately” AND THE LOOK ON ROY’S FACE. AND OLIVER’S FACE!

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Oliver is totally the John Diggle of the Theroy ship.

Downstairs Felicity has a tracker signal on the screen and Oliver confesses that he put one on Laurel, because if she’s going to be “reckless” then he needs to know what she’s doing.

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Obvs he’s coming from a place of not having to give Quentin news of the death of both daughters, but I get Felicity’s response (“She’s definitely doing something. I don’t know how reckless it is.”) because really, the entire Superhero career path isn’t exactly risk-free. He and Roy suit up and go after her.

At the docks, Laurel watches Zytle load up a truck when he spies her and shoots her with Vertigo. She hallucinates her sister in full Canary gear, and while I am happy to see Caity Lotz and I get we’re meant to believe that Sara’s words are Laurel’s internal monologue, it just shows me how much more believable Sara was as a fighter, and I’m sort of rooting for her.

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While Laurel lays on the ground bleeding, Oliver and Roy arrive to save her. Zytle sics his goons on them and escapes as Laurel calls to Oliver to help her before passing out.

Oliver carries Laurel into the lair and, as she imagines Felicity as a tearful Sara asking her why she had to die, he shoots her with the cure. In a moment where it seems all his fears for Laurel are coming true, Thea walks in and nervously asks if she is okay. Oliver tells her to go upstairs and follows it with a growled NOW. Thea is taken aback, but says nothing. Roy tells Oliver off for speaking to his sister that way, for kicking her out when he brought her in, and for telling her to work with Merlyn.

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Oliver says that she’s his sister, but Roy snaps, “She makes her own choices, Oliver.” Thea interjects to say they can talk later but asks if Laurel is okay. Oliver, visibly trying to calm himself, quietly tells her she’ll be okay and to please go back upstairs. He turns back around to Roy, who tells him he’s not the only one who can stand up for Thea. “I’m trying to figure out why you’re standing up to me,” Oliver says, and Diggle interrupts to halfheartedly try to calm the situation.

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But as always in the Cave, Felicity gets the last word on what will and won’t fly. She reminds Oliver that he was dead, gone, they got used to doing things their way, and just because he is back doesn’t mean they can go back, or that he can question everyone’s choices.

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There is an interesting pause where Felicity and he stare at each other, and you can feel what’s unsaid. Two of those choices are the ones each has made that keep them apart (Oliver’s to partner with R’as, Felicity’s to not support that choice), and they have both agreed to let the other go forward & keep working together despite misgivings.

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Of course this means that there will be conflict, but it makes me sad to see the degree to which these two (and the whole team) are out of sync with each others’ thoughts and motivations. Do I think these things need to be said? Absolutely. Do I enjoy they saying? Not so much, but I get that this is where where we are, especially with Olicity, who have fractured and now must heal. Oliver has shown that when he is hurt he becomes even more insular and nearsighted, and Felicity that she sometimes speaks without thinking of the impact of her words. Where they both previously took great care with one another, this is a new world where they are being more volatile, and while I understand its place in the narrative, I for one can’t wait until it’s over.

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Oliver looks around the Cave and sees the faces of his team. No one is arguing with Felicity’s point, so after asking to be kept appraised of Laurel’s condition, he leaves.

In the alley outside Verdant Thea decided that banging a dude with a like hairstyle will help get some stress out, and it’s unfortunate that as she drags Chase away by the hand, Roy, who has come looking for her, sees them go.

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Upstairs at the bar Oliver is brooding with either a moderate amount of water or a crap-ton of vodka. Digg arrives to sit with him and THANK GOD, they have a mature, frank exchange about the state of the team. Digg agrees with Oliver when he says it’s not just his crusade any more, but corrects him when he says that he was “gone.” He was dead, John says, and the team was ready to quit.

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“Oliver wants to know why, and Digg’s answer is that they weren’t fighting just for him, but for themselves, and that includes Roy and Laurel. He finishes by framing the situation clearly and concisely: Oliver “started something strong enough to live on past [him],” but the question is can he live with what it has become?

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God bless John Diggle for knowing how to broadcast to this knucklehead.

***FB ALERT*** Maseo joins Oliver and tells him he got himself captured on purpose since he assumed Oliver would, and that he lied about the ferry. When agents come to see him, he asks to speak to Waller but instead they are both knocked out. ***END FB***

In the Cave, Laurel wakes up and tells Felicity that she saw Sara and she was “crazy” to think she could be her sister.  Although I know this was a Laurel-Felicity bonding scene, I pretty much locked in on Felicity’s sleeve and it bothered me throughout, but not as much as the writing.

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Again, I know these characters have to connect on a meaningful level for Laurel to be accepted as part of Team Arrow, but Felicity’s dialogue sounded out-of-character to me. She tells Laurel that “Sara wore her mask just as much to hide her demons as she did to help people” and that Laurel has “a light” that her sister didn’t have. While the message of “just be yourself” is a great one, I wish it didn’t come at the expense of comparing a woman who overcame spectacular odds and became amazingly accomplished to someone who has nowhere near her skill set nor the experience of enduring all she had to overcome.

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I’m pretty sure the point could have made just as clearly and touchingly without speaking ill of the fictional dead by one of the more sensitive characters in the series. In any case, I give up ranting against this, it’s pointless. Their hug is interrupted by a signal from a chemical drum Zytle just opened.

At Thea’s apartment she is in post-coital couch glow with Chase when he asks if she wants a drink. Thea agrees, but because Malcolm trained her to recognize the scent of cyanide, she can detect that the wine he gives her is poisoned and attacks him with the cheese knife AS YOU DO.

While they fight he confesses to being a member of the League and he almost slits her throat when BAM ARSENAL. Thank God for Roy, but I do wonder if he waited through the sex outside her door? How did he know?

They fight and Chase pins Roy down when he catches and arrow in the shoulder. It’s Malcolm, who generously promises to kill him fast if he just says “I’m sorry” to Thea first. Chase would rather die than apologize, so he drinks some cyanide. This might be the only TV death I applauded.

In the Arrow Cave, Oliver finds out that Zytle is holed up in a pharmaceutical lab with hostages that he is forcing to produce Vertigo. After a quick eye check-in with Diggle, Oliver invites Laurel to come with him.

At the pharmaceutical company, Zytle monologues just long enough to give Oliver and Laurel the chance to catch up with him and interrupt his monologue with their own. He sets fire to the joint and runs, and while Laurel goes after him, Oliver stays behind to help the hostages to safety. Zytle hits Laurel with Vertigo AGAIN.

We’re treated to more Sara hallucinations, which then WHOA turn into Quentin hallucinations, screaming at his daughter that he had the right to know about Sara, “to grieve, to mourn.”

Back to Sara, who demands to know if she thinks she can be her. “No, and I’m done trying to be,” Laurel answers, jumping Zytle and punching his twice as much as she needs to. She looks up and sees a vision of a smiling Sara, which is later revealed to be a shocked Oliver.

Also, a plane flies by with a banner attached that reads “It’s okay to accept Laurel as the Black Canary!!!” Whoever wrote this scene is not big on subtlety. Oliver checks in with Felicity to tell her they’re done, and she tells him he needs to go home to Thea.

At the station, Laurel walks in to finally tell her father what she’s been keeping from him. He guesses that she is the other blonde crime fighter, and there is a moment where he holds her where you wonder if she’ll follow through, but she does. “No Daddy, what I was going to tell you… it’s about Sara.” Quentin stumbles back, already shaking his head and sits down at his desk crying while Laurel holds him.

We all wanted Quentin to find out, but now that he has I really worry for what this will mean for him.

Oliver comes home to find Thea with Roy. She tells Oliver that she thought she could protect herself. When Oliver asks who the attacker was, Malcolm responds that he was LoA and Oliver asks Roy to give them a moment.

Thea speaks directly to her brother, saying that maybe they do need Malcolm, but that she isn’t going to forget what he did. “Understood,” her father says matter-of-factly, and tells them that to win against R’as, they need to conquer their fears, and for Oliver that means one place on Earth.

Back at the Cave, Oliver tells his team he is leaving again for a few days, and that he wouldn’t do so if it wasn’t for Thea.

He tells them and Laurel especially, that they have shown the city is safe in their hands. Okay doke, then.

Upstairs, Roy has come to see Thea off. He asks her if she is okay with things, but she doesn’t think she will be for a while because of Chase and what happened. Before she leaves, she kisses his cheek, and tells him he can pick whether it’s for saving her life or “standing up to Oliver about Malcolm.”

The Queen siblings are hiking in the place where Malcolm thought they should go, and when the camera pans out we see a shipwreck, and recognize Lian Yu.

***FB ALERT*** Maseo and Oliver wake up in a limo with Amanda Waller. Chien-Na We has left Hong Kong and they tracked her to that location. When Oliver asks where they are, he looks out the window and sees for himself.

Next week, sibling fun on the island and Oliver’s wig stalks his family.

See you then!

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Meh. Arrow Mehcap E311, “Midnight City”

Ish got real, y’all. Real sad. And real boring, I’m sorry to say. Last week was actually an easier recap, so this is even shorter than that one, and here’s hoping this week is better. I’m still here for this show.

 

We got a dream sequence where Oliver is all, “Yeah, you know what? I’m gonna stay here and screw this city because I only know ONE thing, not two. Solve your own problems, Thea Queen, I’m about to smear this pink lipstick.”

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I may have paraphrased most of that dialogue, but I had to. It was probably the only time this episode I smiled. So of course he coughs up blood because it has to suck balls to be Oliver Queen or else we all turn into pumpkins.

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Same, Miss Smoak. SAME.

 

Oliver wakes up and stumbles over to Tatsu, who is rocking a smoky eye and brewing him some penicillin. I would watch this show. It’s like Himalayan ER. Or House, because Maseo is pretty cranky.

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Oliver thanks Tatsu, and she credits the snow, the cold, and Maseo, who asked her to meet him. Maseo is leaving when the snow stops, and tells Oliver he should care more about what Starling has become in his absence, and less about what the LoA will do to him.

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Girl running from a dude in an alley only to get saved by Laurel as Fauxnary. She immediately gets pwnd and then saved by Arsenal, who knows at least enough to save the banter for AFTER you beat up the bad guy.

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Roy takes Laurel back to the Cave for some stitches and a talk, and his delivery of “you have a law degree” when he points out the holes in Laurel’s skill set is fighting with Digg’s fabulous “Laurel, what the hell?” to be my new text message notification.

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Proving again that John is the voice of the fandom, he says she’s “certifiable” if she thinks she can wear her sister’s mask, and she tries to justify this mess by saying that the city needs a visible hero, and that since Oliver is gone and Sara is dead, she’s all they got.

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At QC, Felicity is in the office 3 hours early so she can brood in peace
and STILL Ray manages to crash her pity party. He’s meeting with the Mayor about the situation in The Glades so of course she needs to go because that’s what VPs do, they go EVERY PLACE THE PRESIDENT DOES. He mentions he could help in other ways, but
she still won’t fix his chip.

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She huffs that “nothing
you can do or say will change my mind” and this is when I know she is
definitely changing her mind. Never play poker, Arrow writers.

 

Thea’s at Verdant & runs into Creep DJ who is briefly skeezy and when he leaves, by Malcolm,
who is annoyed that she isn’t packing.

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She can’t leave without
knowing about Oliver, and she doesn’t know why he wants
her to go. Malcolm tells her she’s not ready for the truth, and she’s
all BYE THEN and stalks off. Oh Merlyn, no one ever prepared you for a milennial. When he gives up and gets in the car, Roy sees him go.

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There’s a meeting about something with the mayor and Brick is an asshole and I am already done with this plot, I care so little.

 

What I do care about is that Maseo and Tatsu are no longer together, and I SHIP IT.  Damn it, you two, get your shit together. Oliver is like the handsomest marriage counselor ever, but the odds don’t look good.

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There’s a flashback to Tatsu’s rescue from China White in a club. All you need to know is it’s successful, and even tho Maseo gave them the real Alpha, it ended up being fake.

Brief convo between Quentin and Felicity where he points out that the Arrow didn’t show, but Sara was back. Felicity immediately realizes it’s Laurel.

More Laurel unsuccessfully lawyering.

More interesting is Roy, who is my new favorite person as he confronts The Magician himself in Thea’s apartment. Turns out someone other than Felicity is willing to mail a truthigram to Mr. Merlyn.

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He tells Malcolm that he is “poison,” he won’t let him take Thea anywhere and that she will find out about Sara. Once she does, Roy assures him as one in the know, Malcolm will lose her forever. Merlyn holds up his hand and un-invites him from the convo because he’s not family, but I’m still glad someone had the balls to call him out on his utter dickishness to his only living kid, and that that someone was the man who loves her.

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Felicity heals Ray and I’m not ready to see these two together. It’s too soon and feels gross. The takeaway is he tells her he’s not trying to fight crime only for Anna, but for the people he cares for. Ugh. OK, fine. God please let this arc end soon and be replaced with a significantly less gross arc.

 

Laurel and Roy are suiting up when Diggle arrives. She won’t stay safe in the Cave and let him go with Roy. She knows she’s not her sister, but she thought Digg would understand.

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John asks Roy to stay close to her, but when they go to save the alderman Brick kidnapped (yeah, that’s happening), Roy and she screw up and don’t capture him, and Brick kills one of them just to make a point. POINT TAKEN.

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Back at the station, Quentin talks to Laurel about her sister because YES, he still thinks she’s alive and yes, Laurel STILL says nothing. Brick calls and wants a parlay with the mayor because Shakespeare. This would totally happen IRL.

 

At Thea’s, Malcolm tells Thea just enough truth to hook her. Basically the story of his wife, but you know, omitting the part where he got her brother killed.

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The book.

 

Felicity comes to see Laurel and no, it’s not a dream sequence. She saw the news and knows she suited up as the Canary. Laurel has a very nice monologue about how Felicity needn’t worry about her anymore because the death of the alderman made her realize she’s not “strong enough to fight for Sara.” So OF COURSE the next thing Felicity says is what Ray told her, that maybe they fight for those still alive. It was well acted, well-written, and I bought into NONE of it. Zero.

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Go figure, and I can’t really say why, but when Arrow is at its best I lose myself in the characters. I forget that I am watching a show, and this entire setup felt so contrived to me that I was painfully aware that this scene was written this way to pull in these specific four characters (Felicity, Laurel, Sara, and Ray via quote) to give them a commonality and a unity of purpose, and it was hammered home a little too hard for my taste. EBR and KC approached this from radically different acting schools. If Emily had chosen to play her sadness bigger, or Katie had downplayed her lines some, this could have been great. Instead in comparison with Oliver and Tatsu’s tragic, permeating sadness at the change in the man they once knew, this felt harsh and overdone. Not to mention THIS:

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At the parley, Brick takes waaay too long to ask the Mayor to move all cops out of The Glades so he can crime in peace and no one knows why Ray’s there.

 

At the cabin, Oliver tries to convince Maseo to stay with them and Tatsu sweetly tells him she still loves him, no matter who he thinks he has become. There is a split second where Maseo breaks his blank stare and blinks during their kiss, and I scream out loud. These poor babies.

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Maseo sees the LoA outside the house and when they open the door, Oliver and Tatsu are hiding and he is warming his hands. Maseo tells them that Oliver was there, and that he was about to leave to follow his trail. When they get suspicious and try to check the house, he kills them.

In the Cave, Digg and Roy drink Oliver’s good vodka and Roy asks if they can’t do this without Oliver.

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Cue Felicity and Laurel, who come down the steps. Felicity admits being wrong, she’s back in, and says that it’s up to them to protect their home. Laurel tells them that the Mayor is going to pull out of The Glades. My takeaway: Laurel still doesn’t believe Oliver is dead, but there are for sure live people that might appreciate a save.

Next up: the clubbing of a baby seal. HAHA NO J/K Laurel uses recordings of Sara’s voice that Felicity fed through an algorithm (et tu, Dr. Frankenstein?) to up the ante on asshole behavior to Quentin and get intel about the case. She cries when he says he doesn’t know what he’d do if something happened to her. GOOD.

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Felicity hits Ray up for his helicopter. This is more Ray than I really needed to see. Just steal it. Turns out Diggle knows how to fly, and he takes Roy and Laurel to the (all together) a warehouse in The Glades where Brick is holding the aldermen. When Oliver gets back, he should just set fire to all warehouses in The Glades. Roy and Laurel do somewhat better this time and free the aldermen, but when Laurel is cornered by Brick, she escapes by kneeing him in the junk, then throwing herself out a window and grabbing onto the helicopter ladder as it flies her away, and just HAHAHAA NOPE.

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Just…no. Ah, show. You kill me.

Props to her stuntwoman, tho.

 

At the cabin, Maseo leaves Oliver and Tatsu behind despite their (and my) pleas.

 

Because my heart isn’t broken enough, Laurel hangs out on a fire escape and uses the voice recordings to have an entire conversation with her dad as Sara. He tells her that the Mayor is still pulling out of The Glades and maybe they can go have Chinese food and talk? When she avoids him, he calls her on it. To his concerned “are you okay” she answers, “I’m fine, Daddy” in Sara’s voice and it is actually beyond fucked up.

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If lying to Thea is wrong, lying to Lance is goddamned criminal. This is a decent man who has endured car chases, shootouts and a high-pressure job and his ticker is still going. F#CKING TELL HIM.

 

At Chez Thea, she tells Malcolm that he taught her to fight and not be scared, and she thinks he should take his own advice. Malcolm gives in for perhaps the first time in his life, and tells her that they’ll stay. His smirk at the end is deeply disturbing, because there is now no doubt in my mind that he meant to stay and this is all a setup. Malcolm doesn’t brush his damned teeth without a plan B.

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Felicity gives Ray back the keys to his helicopter, plus his (now fixed) chip. If she helps him, she says, he may not end up dead. Yawn. K. Moving on.

 

Finally, Thea’s at Verdant and finds Skeezy DJ, who tells her he was in there for “some of his music files” he needed for another gig and boom just like that we know he’s shady because WTF are those files on a floppy? When Thea leaves, he makes a phone call to… Maseo, informing him that The Magician is still in Starling. The worst thing about this news is that I can almost guarantee we’ll be seeing him and his boy-band headsuit again.

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That’s it for this week! Next week, Oliver returns, and the tug-of-war between this show and my feels continues. Thanks for reading! For more shenanigans, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.