In two parts b/c I am a long-winded bastage. This goes to the halfway point.
Claire is lonely and she wants even inanimate bodies of water to know this, so she busts out her best rhymes, courtesy of J-Dizzle.
But it seems fate has smiled on her! One Scots at least has taken time out from teasing the youngest member of the party about having sex with his sister to help her quote and so, a friendship of sorts is established.
This particular Scotsman is Mackenzie Lawyer Ned Gowan, who handles the “records and the receipts” for Dougal. He takes everything in payment from grain to goats, but this year he is putting the kebash on live pigs. He coughs the entire time he is speaking to Claire and explains it happens every year, and she mentally adroitly diagnoses him with asthma and offers him thornapple (jimsonweed) in his pipe, which helps him. Dougal sees this and gruffly pulls up stakes to keep going.
On the way, Ned tells Claire that he studied in Edinburgh and set up a successful practice, only to get bored and decide he needed more jokes about incest in his life, hightailing it up to the highlands and offering himself in service to Jacob Mackenzie, Collum and Dougal’s father, and being clan lawyer ever since. You can tell she likes him, but not enough to stick around.
They stop for the night and Claire is treated to a joke about an old man making fun of his old wife (mirrors were scarce back then) while the rest of the boys roar. Dougal would have been one hell of a standup.
Then she gets handed the single most horrific-looking meal in history…
…and while she doesna flinch, her expression is clear enough to garner Angus Mhor’s disdain and the rest of the group making fun of her in Gaelic. She feels excluded, but comforts herself with the thought that she won’t have to put up with it much longer, because she is OUTTA THERE. Then this:
Claire tells Jamie that the Mackenzies hate her. Jamie smartly responds that they don’t trust her, except for maybe Angus, but he hates everyone. Claire asks what he thinks of her.
I always enjoy when they lift lines from the books, but Jamie telling Claire that he can see her emotions on her face here is perfect for the scene, and her reaction, as well. Hurt and a little less trusting of him, to which he responds with the #1 standard clueless dude’s response.
Rookie mistake, Jamie. She didn’t want the truth, dummy. She wanted empathy. MEN EVERYWHERE, LEARN FROM HIS MISTAKE. No more flirting for our hero. Claire ditches him and gives him the 18th-century version of “I’ve gotta wash my hair”. Next day, new village, and people come to pay the laird his due through Dougal.
Dougal is affable and likeable, a man who obviously knows and appreciates his tenants, calling them by name and inquiring after their families, but obviously enjoying his status as laird in all but name.
Claire gets bored after teasing Ned about once again getting live pigs, and wanders off exploring. She hears singing it and follows it to its source, the hut of one Donalda Gilchrest, who is cautiously courteous and asks if she can help her with anything. Claire then admits to being “idle” and this working woman has just the thing….
She takes her to the source of the singing, women “waulking“ wool. They are all smiling as Donalda introduces her, but that smile pretty much evaporates when they hear her English accent. Still, she is determined to be friendly and then she innocently mentions the smell of the bucket Donalda pours out onto the wool and guys, it’s MAGNIFICENT.
AHAHAHAHAHAH. I can’t explain how delighted I was with this scene. Women, if you ever doubted it, DO WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO. Hats off to you, 18th century Scots housewives. You were made of stern stuff. There is a bit of a standoff-
But this is why Claire is our heroine, y’all. B*tch don’t crack.
And suddenly, two centuries in the past, in the middle of a place she knows nothing about, she is admitted, if briefly, into a sisterhood and it means EVERYTHING.
They then have a lovely (and verra strong, but don’t tell the men) drink afterwards in one of the huts and a nice chat. Donalda’s son cries and she mentions that he will not nurse because he is teething, and now that they gave the goat away for rent, there is no milk. Claire slyly asks the distance to Craig Na Dun, and finds out it is three days from where she is. Drinks and gossip done, it is time to fill the pee bucket again (that’s what the dram was for!) and Claire gamely joins in. I won’t screencap Catriona squatting here because she admitted it was embarrassing, but her smile as Claire is so impish and game that you just LOVE HER.
And then Angus walks in on her.
Oh Angus. You were a comedic foil there for a bit but now I kind of hate you. Claire goes from being relatively at peace and treated with respect to being told she’s a drunk who smells like piss and manhandled and shoved all the way back to camp. She gamely retorts that Angus is one to talk, but when she arrives she goes straight to the wagon and starts untying the Gilchrest’s goat. Donalda was good to her, damn it, and Claire is going to return the favor.
Unfortunately for her, neither Rupert nor Dougal will part with the goat. Not only because he was given in fair payment, but because there is no way either of them will bend to her will in the presence of the villagers. A lot was said about Jamie being a symbol this episode (you’ll see later on), but Claire is as well. Openly walking about with a Sassenach prisoner gives Dougal status. It goes down like so:
And Jamie watches, but wisely does nothing. For all that I sympathize with Claire, she is not thinking. She is just sick of everyone and can’t keep it in. Dougal notices everyone watching and immediately shames her, like the good control freak he is.
Dougal growls at her that they are leaving, and poor Claire is so done. She is at the end of her rope and then magically, this happens:
An Englishman here? And he’s cute? AND HE’S ENGLISH? Claire is as stunned as we are. Angus tells him to mind his own business, and he clarifies that he is speaking “to the lady” to which Dougal replies that “the lady is a guest of Clan Mackenzie”. The entire thing is very tense and Angus is very ugly.
Even Jamie goes back for his weapon, and that is some commitment from a kid who is supposed to be in fear for his life of the English.
Trust me to find an inappropriate time to fly my ‘ship flag, but you guys JAMIE ALREADY LOVES HER. He is totes risking his safety for her here, and my heart can’t take it oh God. Nothing happens, though because the Englishman is no fool. He looks around, sees he is outnumbered and wisely retreats.
Claire looks both heartbroken at another lost chance for escape and pissed as hell at Dougal, who repeats that they are leaving. As they pack up, they fail to notice OMFG THIS:
Dougal ye arsehole. Now you’ve done it. That is the look of a kid who is no going to forget you insulted Mummy. Dougal‘s head is elsewhere, though. At the village he kept inviting everyone to join him later for a drink, and that evening they do.
Of course everything’s in Gaelic (I wonder if someone translates these? Yes!) and it seems pretty friendly until a conspicuous door closes and then Dougal gets intense, as if he is telling a scary story and everyone is riveted. All of a sudden he walks over to Jamie, who is drinking with his back to the group, seemingly uninterested and once again proves he is a cold, cold bastard—and that that shinty win and Jamie’s move at The Gathering weren’t forgotten.
All are obviously horrified and none less so than Murtagh, who looks outraged and sad all at once, and stands up to do something until a very subtle eye from Jamie causes him to sit back down. Dougal’s voice rises and one by one, the villagers drop coins in Ned’s bag. Through the entire thing, Jamie sits still as a statue. Once it is all done, Ned and Dougal count the coins and say it’s okay for the size of the place, and the mood is tense.
Dougal, being the utter bastard that he is, tosses Jamie’s torn shirt at Claire and tells her to mend it, and Claire’s reaction is instant and terribly satisfying to watch.
Dougal is still a cold asshole, though, and he calmly takes a drink and responds that Jamie can wear rags for all he cares. I guess better to advertise his scars. GOD WHAT A PRICK. Claire, knowing how Jamie feels about his back, waspishly goes to pick up the shirt that she now says she will mend, when Jamie beats her to it, picking it up off the floor and saying he’ll do it himself.
It is the first time we have ever seen Jamie truly angry, and the sight is upsetting to both us and Claire, who watches him walk away with the saddest little face, glares at Dougal, and walks out.
But of course Dougal could give less of a damn because he is AN ASSHOLE.
Next day Claire has no guile whatsoever and exposes her suspicions that Dougal is lining his pockets behind his brother’s back to Ned.
His deadpan flattery should tell her she’s on the wrong track but she ploughs ahead and feels pretty satisfied with herself, until Ned walks off and she sees Dougal staring at her as if he can read her mind. She considers that whatever trust she built up at Geordie’s death is now gone. You’re a bright one, Sassenach.
What follows is weeks of desolate horse rides and Jamie sitting with his shirt off and Dougal being a total tit and I won’t screen cap it here because it looks exactly as you imagine. During this montage, Claire has a nice inner monologue about feeling like a prisoner in the open landscape, helpless and trapped. Doomed to live “among strangers, 200 years in the past”. Something finally breaks the monotony, but it’s nothing good. The Watch, a Scots protection racket/vigilante force of sorts, has discovered a royal sympathizer, and they pay their respects by burning his house down.
You think Dougal is going down to help, but no, he just wants his 10% in chicken form and then he peaces out. Jamie hides, because as Murtagh helpfully explains, the Watch would turn him in in a second for the reward.
They stop to camp and roast the chickens that evening, Angus offers Claire a piece and she rejects it.
He tosses it at her feet and tells her to suit herself, but she sulkily retorts that she also doesn’t sit with thieves, and when she gets up to stalk away, Angus has had enough and he manages to take her to task on being judgmental while threatening her with a knife. Angus crazy, yo, and he doesn’t “get” irony.
Jamie pops up like the Jack-in-the-Box of common sense and diffuses the argument. I love Murtagh’s expression as he watches Jamie stick up for Claire. I’ll come back to this later.
Claire sulks off to sit moodily on a stump. Jamie follows her there.
Jamie is often kind and affable as he reasons with Claire, but here he is pretty clearly exasperated with her. She tries to tell him that where she comes from-and he cuts her off. No matter where she comes from, she is here now and she needs to reserve judgement and stay out of it. That last is said kindly, but Claire is obviously feeling misunderstood. Jamie doesn’t get that she is how she is because she is a woman with sensibilities two centuries more modern than anyone else and she just CANNOT with this fuckery.
And this is where I cut it off for now, folks. Tumblr can’t handle it all in one post. Leave a comment, I love them!