A sweeping and romantic return to the 20th century opens this latest episode of Outlander. It’s a sweet and tender moment between Claire and Frank Randall as the war causes them to depart once more. Frank jokes about her stubbornness, but admits that’s what he loves about her. “Promise you’ll come back to me,” says Frank. Claire promises.
A dousing of water brings Claire back to reality… in the 18th century. In a bold move, she decides it’s time to trust someone, Mrs. Fitz in particular. The famous “fallen through time” speech occurs. At first Mrs. Fitz doesn’t seem to be taking it too bad, but then she freaks out calling Claire a demon and “WITCH!” But hold up a minute! Inception! That whole interaction took place in Claire’s mind. She even knows that telling anyone her secret is beyond dangerous. Therefore, another strategy takes place. She hopes to get in Colum and Dougal Mackenzie’s good graces, earning their trust by doing a successful job as a healer.
Claire sorts through her surgery, finding some weird things and concoctions. Her resourcefulness comes into play, which aids her greatly in helping the townspeople’s ailments. Soon Dougal’s guards are getting bored by her do-good attitude; they leave their station to drink up and be hearty in the kitchen.
One of the castle’s chambermaids is grieving her son, who passed away the night before. Mrs. Fitz’s superstitious account of the dead boy’s sickness rises curiosity in Claire. Soon she meets another young boy, Thomas Baxter, a nephew of Mrs. Fitz, who was good friends with the dead boy. Thomas is there to summon Claire to Colum, who requests a massage for ailing legs. When she arrives to his quarters, Colum is meeting with a tailor, who made him a coat a bit longer than the standard length. The tailor awfully assumed that Colum would want to hide his misshapen legs with the new coat. Colum, who is very much insulted, whips out the knife, threatens, and shames the tailor into making him a standard size coat. Colum is a proud man, and this scene stands out in this episode as an interesting further development of his character. Claire massages Colum’s back, and more of devil superstitious talk follow. These highlanders take these stories seriously, and for a modern thinker like Claire, it’s disconcerting.
It is clear Claire’s efforts are paying off as Colum invites her to listen to the bard that evening. There she meets Laoghaire, and they bond over Jamie and how attractive he is. Claire hopes to make a little love connection between the two. She tries a bit too hard, since Jamie is definitely not going for it. Jamie is polite, if dismissive. He’s definitely there to be in Claire’s company. And you can kind of tell Claire likes the attention. It’s friendly kind of flirtation, especially when Jamie offers to take Claire back to her surgery because she over-indulged in drink. The whole exchange is genuine and gets a little vulnerable, as Jamie admits that he doesn’t like others seeing the scars on his back. He’s afraid they would judge him and make him feel pitiful. Claire, who has seen the scars, doesn’t make him feel that way. A little off kilter, Claire looks at Jamie’s injury. It’s a borderline intimate moment between them as she undoes his collar. And so it begins… the tension between Jamie and Claire rises.
The next day, Claire heads out to meet with Geillis in search of plants and herbs for healing. Geillis comes with gossip about the young boy we saw earlier. Thomas is sick and “seized with evil.” Claire doesn’t quite believe that. Geillis goes on to ask for Claire’s thoughts on magic and things that don’t have any “earthly explanation.” Claire refuses to back down and let this superstitious nonsense go on, while a boy is dying.
Claire visits Mrs. Fitz’s sister’s home to see Thomas. The poor boy is pale, hallucinating and strapped down to the bed to stop the “demons” from making him violent. Claire believes that Thomas must have eaten something poisonous. Before she can do anymore, the priest comes in to perform an exorcism. He begins whipping holy water at the boy as if that will do anything. Claire tries to convince Thomas’ family to let her help the boy. But the thoughts of devils and demons scare them more than anything, and Mrs/ Fitz chooses to let the priest continue his work.
Disappointed, Claire comes back to the castle. She ponders what could be wrong with the boy until she’s interrupted by Jamie and Laoghaire kissing in the corner. She looks a tad jealous, and that kind of comes out during dinner when she asks Jamie why his lips are looking swollen. Jamie doesn’t like the teasing and quickly leaves. Murtagh at first plays dumb about the teasing, but once Jamie leaves, Murtagh gets real with Claire. He tells Claire that Jamie could get in trouble if anyone found out he was kissing Laoghaire and tells her that Jamie deserves to marry a woman, not a girl. It almost seems like Murtagh thinks Claire should be that woman. As bold as he is, he didn’t go that far to outright suggest it.
Feeling shamed, Claire expresses that her jealousy is rooted from her heartache over Frank. She misses him, and we flash back to that opening scene. That mix of Frank and Jamie is so overwhelmingly confusing. This show is very much making this anticipated love triangle a very deep and emotional one.
Dougal finds Claire then and asks if she’s alright. Probably one of the nicest encounters he’s had with Claire yet. He offers to take Claire to town to visit with Geillis the next day. Geillis is sneakily trying to wheedle information about Claire’s past life. A distraction in the courtyard distracts them as they see a young boy get taken in by the priest. She tells Claire that the boy will probably lose a hand for what he did. Just then, Geillis’ husband rambles in, complaining of flatulence and indigestion. Geillis conjures up something, as Claire is appalled that the young boy is being punished so appalling for a small crime. Geillis sees how much this bothers Claire and sweetly convinces her husband to make sure the boy has a lesser punishment. Her husband falls for her charms and agrees to lighter punishment. The boy gets his ear nailed to a wall, which isn’t that bad according to them, but Claire is still horrified. Geillis finds it strange that Claire seems to come from a place that doesn’t punish criminals in a similar fashion. She continues her investigation of Claire and is interrupted by Jamie, who comes to Claire’s rescue to take her back to the castle.
Before they leave, Claire convinces Jamie to do her a favor. They work together to help the boy. Claire causes a commotion by fainting as Jamie pulls out the nail from the boy’s ear. She asks another favor of Jamie, and he takes her to the haunted place where the boys were playing. While searching the place for poisonous plants, Jamie talks about his boyhood, coming to this place to prove his manhood, and his quite impressive education. Not only is Jamie brave and kind, but he knows several languages and is not so narrow-minded that he doesn’t see the silliness of the town people’s religious superstitions.
Eventually, Claire finds a poisonous plant and heads back to the home of Thomas Baxter. She convinces Mrs. Fitz to let her help the boy. The self-righteous priest tries to stop her, but Mrs. Fitz tells him off and lets Claire help him. Claire heals Thomas, and the priest leaves with a whole bunch of words about God and Satan.
Mrs. Fitz calls Claire the miracle worker, Jamie reports later on. Claire hopes that now she’s earned the people’s trust. And Jamie confirms that she has, but it won’t help with her release. In fact, Colum and company are more inclined to have her stay because she’s so good at what she does.
The backfire to her plan makes Claire miserable. She means to drown out her sorrow and misery with alcohol at the bard later that night, but Jamie waves for her intention and takes her to sit down next to him. As the performer sings a song about a person who—oddly enough—visited a stone circle and got lost through time. Jamie translates the song for Claire, and the story of the song tells her that her falling through time, just didn’t happen to her. Jamie continues to translate, and Claire’s despair visibly lightens. Until we reach the end where we learn that woman from the song found a way back, a way out. The hope resurges in Claire, and she realizes that she shouldn’t be waiting for permission to leave. She shouldn’t let these people keep her here. She made Frank a promise when she boarded that train.
There’s our stubborn girl…
A few highlights from this episode:
- That opening did a fantastic job of getting us in deep with Frank. He might not be around, but we feel for him and adore the relationship between Claire and Frank. Props to Tobias Menzies for nailing a dual role. We didn’t see Black Jack in this episode, but after the last, we weren’t quite feeling for Frank. This reminded us that Frank isn’t a bad guy. A terrible coincidence of looks is the issue here.
- The light flirtations between Jamie and Claire are so damn adorable. But I absolutely loved seeing them work together and discuss their thoughts on matters. I like that there’s a focus to build a romance that doesn’t begin with physical attraction but with conversation and mutual respect. Also, I love the fact that they’re comfortable showing their vulnerabilities to each other.
- I liked the Murtagh scene. It gave us a better idea of how life is like for Jamie, especially since the last episode showed that his uncles don’t have a high regard for the lad. This little bit with Murtagh showed us that someone is there to protect him. I was really touched by it.
- Finally, that ending gave me mixed feelings. Sure, I loved that smile on Claire’s face, but I don’t want her to leave Jamie. *whines* Yet, I completely understand her connection to Frank. I’m curious to see where her “die trying” bit comes in next week. Also, I felt that scene with the song was a bit too literal. Luckily, the narration is slowly dwindling out as we are getting to know Claire better and don’t need to know every thought in her head to understand whatever her current motives are.
Outlander is rated TV-MA. It airs Saturday nights at 9 ET on Starz.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Are you feeling the tug of war between Frank and Jamie? Sound off in the comments!