The fourth episode of Outlander opens with a focus on two Scottish guards overseeing the forest, as we see a woman, likely Claire, running breathlessly through the trees. Is she escaping already? Not quite yet. Claire is playing with the children, but it’s pretty obvious what she’s doing, especially when young Hamish tells her that she is missing her ribbon. She’s tagging parts of the forest to help guide her when she makes her eventual escape. Her “playdate” is cut short when her guards convince her and the children to head back to the castle for they must prepare for The Gathering. It’s a major event where the people of the Mackenzie clan swear their fealty to Colum and their clan.
Claire admits that she has experienced a growing fondness for the people of 1743. Still, she’s sticking to her escape plan: to leave while everyone is sidetracked by the on-goings of the Gathering. The first people she must distract are her own guards. She easily gets one busy with the promise of good time with a woman. The other she plans to drug into a stupor. Another part of her plan is to choose a horse to escape with. She heads to the stables to ask Alec about a horse. She also asks about Jamie, but Alec dismisses talk of Jamie. Alec shows her a horse that will be suitable for her to use for the escape hunt tomorrow.
As Claire heads back to her surgery, Geillis Duncan surprises her. In case we weren’t already suspicious of her, Geillis is popping up unexpectedly all over the place. She’s quite nosy about Claire, and Geillis’ line of questioning unsettles Claire. First, she asks if Claire is with child, then whether or not her husband is dead, and of course, she mentions that Claire might by barren. Oh, Geillis, you’re so nice. The reminder of Frank seems to strengthen Claire’s resolve. Geillis goes on to mention about the sleeping concoction she sees in the surgery and talks a little about her past. She knows what Claire’s up to, but Claire won’t bite. Geillis is too forthcoming, and there’s a cautionary yet a threatening undertone to her words. She warns Claire that the highlands are “no place for a woman to be alone.”
An attempt to avoid the Gathering is thwarted by Mrs. Fitz, who is adamant that Claire take part. It’s the first of many hitches in Claire’s plan. When Mrs. Fitz takes her to the Gathering, Fitz has a sassy little aside with another woman, played by Outlander author Diana Gabaldon. The cameo is a nice little surprise, and Diana is given a few lines. Producer Ronald D. Moore also makes a cameo right before Diana’s scene. Watch Diana’s cameo and a short interview about her experience on set:
Colum arrives to Gathering, walking proudly and powerfully despite his hindrance. Murtagh is there to translate Colum’s speech, which is all in Gaelic, to Claire. Dougal is up first to swear his allegiance to Colum and the Clan Mackenzie. It’s an intense moment between brothers. It inspires the rest of the men to line up quickly to swear their lives to Colum and the clan.
With the men distracted by honor, Claire dodges her one guard by giving him some port laced with a special sleeping concoction. “It’s a sedative,” Claire says when her guard quickly begins to feel the effects. “Is that Spanish?” he funnily replies.
Seeing that everything is in place, Claire rushes back to her surgery and puts her things together to leave. On her way out, Laoghaire stops her to ask for love potion of sorts that will help her win the attentions of Jamie. Claire knows such a thing doesn’t exist, but conjures up something to give to Laoghaire.
She weaves her way through the castle, until she runs into a bunch of drunken men. They corner and threaten her, but Dougal comes to the rescue…. who happens to also be drunk and then tries to rape her himself. Claire fights his advances, and she eventually knocks him out by hitting him over the head with a stool. Nice job, Claire!
She runs to the stables, where the final hiccup in her plan comes to play: Jamie. She startles him as she runs to her horse. On the ready, he takes her down, thinking her a trespasser. He discovers her plan immediately and tells her it won’t work. There are double the patrols, half of the Mackenzie clan will be after her in hours, the best trackers will be utilized, yada yada yada.
Claire laments the failure of her plan, and Jamie offers to escort her back to the castle. She tells him what happened with Dougal and is worried she won’t be able to come back. Jamie laughs, asking if Dougal was drunk. Claire confirms, and Jamie reassures her that it will be fine. As he sees her back, a bunch of the clansmen ambush Jamie and Claire. Jamie has yet to swear his allegiance to the clan, so the men are intent to bring him to Colum. The men threaten to rape Claire, and Jamie goes after them, but then gets clocked in the head. Claire is safe from the men’s lewd behavior though.
Inside the castle, Jamie is conscious and gets dressed in better clothes to make his appearance to Colum. Claire apologizes for getting him into this trouble. The men give him the Mackenzie clan pin, but Jamie refuses to accept it. He’s from a different clan, and he tells Claire his clan’s motto in very intense way, “Je Suis Prest.” I mean, let’s put that on repeat people. Watch the scene below:
“I am ready. But ready for what?” Claire wonders about Jamie’s clan motto.
Back at the Gathering, Jamie’s appearance silences the crowd. Thankfully, Murtagh is there to explain why that is. Jamie has Mackenzie blood, so if he swears an oath to Colum, he can be the next laird of Leoch. Dougal isn’t cool with that because he plans to be laird once Colum passes. But if Jamie doesn’t swear an oath, he greatly disrespects the clan and will be killed. Basically, damned if he do, and damned if he don’t. But Jamie finds a way around it. He swears obedience as man of his own clan to Colum. Luckily, for everyone, Colum happily accepts Jamie’s proposition. Jamie’s situation just continues to become increasingly complicated. At least, we understand the underlying beef between Jamie and Dougal.
Jazz music plays as the Hunt begins the next day. Boar hunting is more dangerous than Claire anticipates. The pig severely injures one man; the gash is brutal. She hears another scream in the forest and tries to find her way to the sound. The boar spots her and dashes toward her, but Dougal shoots it dead right before it rams her. He leads Claire to the fatally injured man, who she comforts during his last moments as Dougal holds him. It’s the first time we see Dougal become emotional, and the scene is long and achingly sad. We don’t know this character, but this dying man reveals a lot about Dougal and Claire’s characters. It is a tough scene.
With the boar dead, they head back to the castle, and Dougal comes across a game of field hockey (I think?). He runs into the game with a stick, charging and knocking down other players. He’s rough, clearly letting his grief out. He targets Jamie, and they begin to fight. Walloping each other with sticks, knocking each other around. Finally these two are venting their frustrations with each other. It’s quite a change in tone from the previous scene. It looks like Dougal is winning for bit, but then Jamie takes him down. “You taught me well,” Jamie tells Dougal. “Too well,” Dougal grudgingly admits.
Later on, Dougal visits Claire in her surgery. “You’ve seen men die before and by violence.” Claire says that she has. Dougal thanks her for giving the dying man peace and tells her of his plan to have her join him and his men as they go on the road to collect rents and do other business throughout their lands. The road is a dangerous place, a healer who works well under pressure is an asset, which is why he’s taking her with him. (Also, it appears he doesn’t remember Claire hitting him in the head with a stool.)
I guess Claire finally got what she wanted; she’s out of Castle Leoch. But will escaping the men on the road be any easier? She has no idea what to expect, only the hope that she might be led back to Craigh na Dun. Having read the books, all I’ve got to say is: Oh Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, girl, just wait and see.
Final thoughts on this episode:
- The Diana Gabaldon cameo was more than I expected. It was tad over the top, but I still enjoyed seeing her shush Claire and Murtagh.
- I was disappointed by how easily Claire backed down from her plan. Didn’t she say she was going to escape, if it meant that she’d die trying last week? Jamie did make some good points, but I almost expected Claire to convince him to help her sneak past the extra guards and all that. She went through all that trouble… just to get to the horse stables. However, I do understand that this is how the story must progress so we can hit certain plot points. I wish the writers played it out so that the scene fell more in line with her character.
- Dougal is bastard. I thought that in the books, and I still think that now. Graham McTavish does a great job with the character, and I’m looking forward to a certain scene between him and Claire that will likely happen later this season.
- Sigh… Jamie. Let’s watch him say his clan’s motto again:
Outlander is rated TV-MA. It airs Saturday nights at 9 ET on Starz.