Last night’s episode of Outlander, By Pricking of My Thumbs, was filled with an intoxicating dose of desire, an overflowing glass of unrequited love, and the uncomfortable sense that a large pile of dunk is going to hit the fan soon.
The steamy opening has Claire being awakened by Jamie lavishing attention on her nether region. It’s languid and beautifully shot and the viewer doesn’t get one hint of how intricate and difficult it is for the actors to produce such an honest love scene. I even liked Murtagh pounding on the door and Jamie determined to completely please Claire before he gets up.
Murtagh, having known Jamie from birth, walks in and finds Claire on the bed recovering. It’s a sweet scene with Murtagh looking a tad bit uncomfortable, Jamie definitely proud, and Claire scrambling to cover herself. It seems the Duke of Sandringham has arrived. Frank spoke of the Duke as being the possible benefactor of Black Jack. Claire tried to use the Duke as leverage with Black Jack to gain her freedom. Jamie thinks he can persuade the Duke to lift the price on his head and thus allow him to return to his own home and family.
Trying to temper Jamie’s hopes, Claire interjects that the Duke is not to be trusted. Jamie misunderstands and thinks Claire is talking about the Duke’s fondness for men. She tells them they can’t ask how she knows , but that the Duke is a close ally of Black Jack, and therefore no friend of theirs.
Even with her warning it’s a chance Jamie must take to get back to his land, to his people, to his role as Laird. It hadn’t struck me until this scene that if Jamie didn’t have a price on his head he would be as Colum, Laird of his lands. How difficult that must be for Jamie.
Jamie and Murtagh take the news to Ned. The lawyer tells them that it’s highly unlikely that the Duke will get him a pardon, but they might be able to put a petitioner before the Duke of Randall’s misdeeds and get him sent away. With Randall away, the Lawyer believes he can take Jamie’s case before a court and get him a pardon.
Claire, looking determined and icy, goes down to the kitchen to confront Loaghaire. The young woman believes that Jamie was hers, and that Claire stole him away. I can see how Loaghaire would be confused. Jamie took her punishment in front of everyone. He also enjoyed kissing her. Unrequited is always painful and rarely ends well. Loaghaire feels sorry for Jamie thinking he’s in a loveless marriage. She calls Claire a cold, English bitch which gets her a swift slap across her face and an admission that she did put the “ill wish” thing under Claire’s bed. That she hates Claire and knows that Jamie will be with her one day. Nothing surprised me in this scene except that Geillis sold the ill wish to Loahaire.
Not finding Geillis at home, a servant tells Claire she can find her in the woods at midnight. It can’t be a good thing when it’s common knowledge that Geillis is roaming in the wee hours. I also wondered if Claire snuck out of bed, because there is no way Jamie would have approved her of tracking Geillis down.
Claire hides behind a tree and watches as Geillis dances in the moonlight with torches lit around her. It’s the same dance that Claire and Frank witnessed in the 1940’s. Not exactly as Geillis is wearing a mere bit of fabric, indulges in some earth humping, and cradles her belly. Geillis is pregnant. She knows Claire has been watching and tells her to come out. Perhaps because Geillis and Claire are both healers, of a sort, Geillis feels Claire is a kindred spirit. Or perhaps it’s something else. Either way, Geillis is very open about having a lover, and that lover being Dougal. That the ceremony Claire witness was a summoning to Mother Earth to help clear the way for Geillis and Dougal to be together. He has a wife and she has a husband. Geillis has always come across as a spider sitting in her web, but in this scene you could see that she truly loves Dougal.
Geillis asks Claire to keep her secret about her pregnancy and Dougal and the ceremony. Claire says she understands. On the walk back – both are decked out in the most amazing coats – Geillis says she had no idea the ill wish was for Claire, and if she had known, she’d never have sold it to Loahaire, because she thinks of Claire as a friend. I’m sure there aren’t many people who would think of Geillis as a friend.
Beside a slight hill a baby’s cry can be heard. Claire walks towards it, but Geillis pulls her back. She says it’s a Fairy Hill and that the baby crying is a changeling. The parents know their baby was swapped because it wasn’t thriving, so they’ve left it for the Fairies to come back and retrieve the changeling and return the child they’ve stolen. Of course, in our time, we know it’s just a poor sick child that will die in the elements. Claire doesn’t heed Geillis’ warning and starts up the hill while Geillis returns to town.
This scene interested me on many levels. Geillis is constantly flouting convention by selling herbs and potions. And yet, she seemed scared of the baby. By the time Claire finds the baby it’s died and she sits down under the trees and cradles the wee thing. I can’t imagine leaving anything as defenseless as a baby alone in the woods to die. And it would be easy to say the people of that time were ignorant and superstitious. It brought to mind people in our time who will not vaccinate their children, or certain religions that don’t believe in medicine. I also thought there was something foreboding about Claire holding a dead baby.
Jamie finds Claire and takes her back home. In their rooms, he’s showing her the document Ned drafted stating that Claire was assaulted by Black Jack. The scene placement is interesting here, because the chance of Jamie getting his pardon is as likely as the Fairies coming back for their changeling. Claire does sign the document though it’s obvious she has major reservations about it.
Finally we get to see the Duke of Sandringham. Not an imposing man, nor a handsome one, or even gifted with a gracious manner. All he’s got going for him is his title and influence. Claire being the woman in charge that she is, has come to visit Sandringham, unbeknownst to Jamie, to encourage him to help Jamie cause by blackmailing him with her knowledge of his involvement in the Jacobite cause. Well, not the cause, but the gold.
Claire was an army nurse during World War II. She’s witnessed what powerful men can do. She isn’t intimidated by them. She actually seems to be at her best while maneuvering them around like chess pieces.
Returning back to the castle she learns that Dougal’s wife has died and he’s drunk himself into a mad rage. Colum and the other men are attempting to calm him down, but he’s armed with a sword and fighting them. Watching Dougal lashing out at everyone and himself brought to mind a wounded animal that won’t allow anyone to help it. Did Dougal arrange to have his wife poisoned? Did Geillis somehow manage to have it done? Does he believe that Geillis has magic powers? Hard to say if any of these are true, though it’s clear he feels a tremendous amount of guilt.
Right in the middle of a lavish meal to celebrate the Duke of Sandringham’s visit, Geillis’ husband chokes, falls over, and dies. The look Geillis gives Dougal right before she starts to pretend to be a grieving wife is caught by Colum. He knows and everyone else probably suspects that Geillis poisoned him.
Jamie is the Duke’s second in a duel, It was the price he exacted from Jamie to help him with his petition. It seems the Duke as a slight gambling problem. Kind of explains his involvement with the Jacobites. He’s offended the McDonald clan by not paying his debts. The duel is more of a farce where each side goes through the motions and then the Duke apologizes and Andrew McDonald accepts. The trouble starts when McDonald’s sons start to taunt Jamie and the Duke. One insult leads to a shove that leads to a sword fight and you end up with Jamie skewered and skewering three McDonalds.
Colum hasn’t forgiven his brother for collecting gold from his tenants and now he confronts him about Geillis. Dougal confesses that he loves Geillis and the child she is carrying is his. Colum doesn’t want to hear it and orders him to leave the castle and return to his home. Further, because Jamie seconded the Duke in a duel with the McDonalds and there was bloodshed, he is also banished to go and guard Dougal, without Claire.
Before Jamie leaves he warns Claire to steer clear of Geillis. Does she listen? No. She’s slipped a note that is signed by Geillis asking her to come to her as soon as she can. When Claire gets there Geillis tells her she didn’t write the note. Claire is immediately worried and tells Geillis they should leave, now. Geillis believes that nothing will happen to her because Dougal has vowed to protect her and the baby she’s carrying. She doesn’t know Dougal has been banished.
Guards enter her home and arrest Geillis for witchcraft. Geillis was the only target, but since Claire was there she is arrested also. And so, who sent the note? We didn’t have to wait long to find out for as Claire is put into the barred cart, Loaghaire is watching from the street.