This week on Outlander, Claire gains antagonists and allies at Castle Leoch. Plus, she finally gets out of that poor dress, and into the complex world of 18th century clan politics, and we learn more about Jamie.
Castle Leoch picks up right where episode 101 left off, and finds our gang of Scots (+1 sassenach) arriving at the castle. Claire is met with varying degrees of suspicion from the castle's inhabitants.
The first thing our healer does is insist on properly treating Jamie's wound. Mrs. FitzGibbons, the housekeeper, seems impressed by this, and provides Claire the supplies she needs. Mrs. Fitz seems to take to Claire after first being put off by her state of dishabille. Mrs. Fitz: Ally.
Claire meets the laird, Colum MacKenzie, who essentially interrogates her. She sticks to her story, though, which is as close to the truth as possible - she was traveling to distant relatives in France, got set upon by bandits, wandered through the forest, and was attacked by Black Jack Randall. Colum tries to poke holes in the story but it pretty much holds up. He also offers to send her to Inverness in 5 days' time, hitching a ride with a visiting tinker. Advantage - Claire.
Colum tries a different tactic at dinner that evening: Getting Claire drunk. He plies her with wine, including his own strong Rhenish, and continues the interrogation (this time with the benefit of Dougal's and Rupert's eyes on her). Claire really digs into the wine, too.
Claire seems slightly less confident here, more on defense than offense I think, but sticks to her story. When she asks about "Mr. McTavish" (Jamie), we see a moment of tension between Colum and Dougal. (With Claire sitting awkwardly in the middle.)
The brothers' balance of power is a bit precarious, then. So Claire's big slip-up has nothing to do with her interrogation - she incorrectly identifies Colum's son as Dougal's, and that seems to strike a nerve. (This was one of those cringe-worthy moments I can't watch - like watching The Office. I have to look away.) Her keen observation obviously does not put her on the good side of Dougal or Colum. Claire attempts to extricate her foot from her mouth and excuses herself much more gracefully than I would have under the circumstances.
Later in the episode, we see that Dougal is having Claire followed. Dougal suspects Claire of being an English spy, and tells her so to her face. Dougal is an antagonist, then. But Colum? He seems not to throw in as an antagonist or an ally - he's a man who reserves judgement - until the end of the episode. By then, through Dougal's influence or just based on his own observations, Colum decides not to allow Claire to leave with the tinker until he can find out more about her. He's choosing to keep his sassenachs closer. Colum: Antagonist.
By the way - Claire gets the date from a letter in Colum's study: She traveled from 1945 to 1743.
Fortunately, Claire does manage to find a couple more allies by the end of the episode.
Claire gains a friend on the form of Geillis Duncan, who seems something of an enigma herself. They bond over their shared interest in medicinal herbs, though Geilie knows a few darker purposes for some plants, and has a nice little business in the village offering people (women, in particular) such "cures." Geillis accompanies Claire to Hall, which appears to be a forum for the laird's tenants to bring disputes forward for him to resolve. Geillis translates the Gaelic for Claire (and for us) as Colum, with Dougal at his right hand, deals with his tenants. We'll say Geillis is an ally, though she does seem a bit odd. (But then again, everyone thinks Claire is odd, too.)
The big infodumps of the episode give us a closer look at Jamie, Claire's riding companion from the first episode. As Claire tends his wounds after their arrival at Leoch, she uncovers some terrible scars on his back.
She inquires, so he tells her the story...
Jamie was flogged four years prior - twice in the space of a week - at a place called Fort William. We see via flashback the circumstances that led to his imprisonment and eventual flogging for escape: Black Jack and his troops avail themselves of the food and supplies at Jamie's place, as good English soldiers do in the Highlands. Unfortunately, Black Jack considers Jamie's sister as another of the spoils, and when Jamie takes issue with that, Black Jack whips him in front of her to get her to provide Randall other "entertainment." Jamie insists that she shouldn't, even if they kill him, then is knocked out. We find out that Jamie's sister then goes with Randall, while they cart Jamie away to Fort William. Jamie later tries to escape Fort William with some food, and so he is flogged once for escape, and once for theft.
Let's take a moment to appreciate Tobias Menzies. Black Jack's eyes are somehow deader than Frank's, his bearing more malicious.
Speaking of Frank...As Claire finishes bandaging Jamie up, he brings up Claire's husband, which brings about Claire's first moment of grief for Frank. Up until now, she's mostly been caught up in cavorting about the countryside on horseback, trying to figure out how to escape, tending wounds, etc. Here, she's finally warm and dry and away from the prying eyes of Dougal MacKenzie and assorted unwashed Highlanders. She admits that her husband isn't alive (but not "dead" to her, either), and Jamie kindly consoles her. And then they have one of those almost-kissing moments, where they're both looking at each others' lips, and he totally wants to kiss her, you guys.
Even though she's been crying over her "not alive" husband. The moment passes and they awkwardly recover, but not before Jamie promises to protect her. (You get the sense that he's taking this promise seriously.) Thus I declare Jamie: Ally.
On another occasion, Claire visits him to re-dress his bandage. She approaches him at the stables, and the heart of my teenage self goes pitter-patter as he's training a horse, you guys. And talking Gaelic to the mare, and he's all manly but sensitive and good with horses and I think my teenage self just swooned.
(I also had a weird flashback to that live-action Tarzan movie with Brendan Fraser [and Leslie Mann!] where he's running around with horses in a paddock, and all the women are at the fence staring and appreciating and their husbands are like, "What is it with women and horses?" Did anyone see that movie besides me??)
But I digress...Claire has brought medical supplies and lunch, and while she is eating the smallest bites of food humanly possible, he tells her more about himself.
Jamie tells her he's an outlaw with a price on his head. It seems a silly move if Claire is working for the English; perhaps he's testing her, like everyone else is, but the exchange has a more earnest feel about it. He tells her he's choosing to trust her. And, as we find out at Hall, Jamie isn't really too friendly with his uncles, particularly Dougal.
Jamie offers to take the punishment for a girl, Leoghaire (pronounced "L'heer" or "L'heery"), who has been accused of loose behavior. (I love Geillis' little eyebrow raise when she hears the charge.) Jamie chooses fists as the method of punishment, and one of Dougal's men, Angus, imparts increasingly fierce blows to Jamie's torso and head. You get the sense that Dougal's trying to wipe the smirk off of Jamie's face, going even further than first blood to knock Jamie down a peg (or onto the floor).
And so, Claire must remain at Castle Leoch, ostensibly to serve as the castle healer, but really to stay under the watchful eye of Colum and Dougal MacKenzie. Her hopes of returning to the stones, and to Frank, are dashed for the moment. Next week - What happens when Claire reveals her true story to Mrs. Fitz? (Nothing good, from the looks of it.) Can she find her way out of Leoch, and back to the stones?
(Note Claire's "gentleman!?" face in the upper left.)
"Is there ever a good reason for rape?" - Claire
"[Angus] likes women with a smell of the barnyard about them." - Rupert
"Then I'll remember to bathe regularly." - Claire
"Oh, aye, he wouldna know what to do with that." - Rupert
"Oh aye, chickens are very poor company." - Jamie
Letitia tosses Claire a "bannock" which is a "heavy, flat cake of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough" - known also as a scone. It was a common food in Scotland since the 1500s. They were typically cooked on a large, flat, rounded piece of sandstone or on a griddle. [Bannock on Wikipedia]
Obligatory Picture of Scotland:
(albeit with a slightly CG'd castle)