Outlander, Episode Eight – Both Sides Now

We were jolted out of the romantic wedding night episode of last week into the midseason finale of Both Sides Now. In this episode Claire is nearly raped twice, kills a man, and is back in the clutches of Black Jack Randall. And, to top it all off, Outlander won’t be back until April 4, 2015. All I can say is Good God Man, that’s too blasted long.

Both Sides Now begins with Frank sitting in the police station waiting to speak with the detective  handing the case of the missing Claire. I truly can’t imagine what it would be like to have a loved one vanish. As I’ve written before, when I read the books I never really felt that much for Frank. But now that I know a bit about him, I feel horrible for what he is going through. The police think that Claire ran off with the Highlander Frank saw staring up at Claire’s window. Frank doesn’t believe that and storms out of the police station. He’s staying with Reverend Wakefield and seeks out his advice for what he should do. The Reverend, kind soul that he is, believes Claire has been kidnapped, but Frank is beginning to doubt it. Or, he’s doubting that he can find Claire at this point. He stomps off to a bar to drown his sorrows when a woman approaches him. She’s seen the Highlander posters Frank’s placed about Inverness. She will take him to the man.

Now we know she’s up to something, but Frank is grasping at straws and meets her only to be jumped by two men. Frank is ready for them and chases off the one before pummeling the other into unconsciousness. It would seem Frank and Black Jack Randall aren’t so different. Well, Frank does have a conscious.

Meanwhile Jamie and Claire are still feeling the afterglow of their wedding night. They’re having a  private picnic on a hill overlooking the unbelievably beautiful countryside of Scotland. Jamie is stunned by how wonderful being with Claire feels, and asks if it is normal. Claire responds that what they have is special. Before Jamie can get to loosening her corset, an  arrow lands just a few feet from them.

Up the hill comes a scraggly looking man, Hugh Monro. By a combination of sign language and guttural noises, he communicates that there is a redcoat who knows that Jamie did not commit the murder he was charged with. Hugh isn’t deaf, but had his tongue cut out by the Turks, I think. He was a slave and wouldn’t change his religion, so he was tortured. Now Hugh is a professional beggar, as the many badges he sports around his neck attest.

Jamie is ebullient. If he could find this man, he might get the price off his head, and return to his  home without fear of being captured. Before Hugh leaves he gives Claire a wedding gift, a dragonfly in amber, and disappears down the path. Alone, Jamie gets to that corset undoing and hikes Claire’s skirts up. Unfortunately, two deserter redcoats attack them. Jamie is held while one of the soldiers tries to rape Claire. Earlier she’d been taught how to use a small blade, and now while the man is on top of her she uses her newfound skills to stab the rapist multiple times.

The scene of Claire after killing the man is amazing. She’s cold from shock and can’t keep her mind from roaming. She’s a nurse and knows the symptoms, but it doesn’t help her from spiraling. While the men hide the deserters bodies, Claire paces and tries to rein in her myriad of emotions. She lashes out at Jamie for not keeping them safe. He castigates himself for going too far away from the group. The honeymoon is over.

Jamie is insistent that they find the man, Hardrocks, that Hugh told him about. Jamie makes Claire promise she will stay where she is until they get back. Does she? No, of course not, but she has a good reason to wander. She see the rocks of Craigh Na Dun, just over the rise. How can she not go? She’s been desperate to get back to her own time, to Frank, and there they are waiting for her.

In the future, Frank is leaving Inverness having decided that he must get back to his life. On the  way out of town, he drives past the sign for Craigh Na Dun. Mrs. Graham, against Reverend Wakefield’s wishes, told Frank the story of the stones. She says Claire will be back, that he just has to wait for her to return. I can’t fault Frank for not believing her, or rather for not understanding the legend. Who would? He turns back and walks up to the stones. He’s overcome with emotion and calls out Claire’s name. She hears him through the stones and calls back to him. But just as she’s about to lay her hands on the stone two redcoat soldiers grab her. She was right there, and Frank was there, but fate would not let her go back to him.

Trussed up and plopped down in a wagon she’s taken back to Black Jack Randall. Claire plays the only card she has to possibly secure her freedom. In the 1940s she remembers Frank saying that Black Jack must have a powerful benefactor. the Duke of Sandringham. Claire tells Frank that she works for the Duke and he would be none too happy to find out Black Jack has interrupted her mission. The ploy almost works until Black Jack mentions his wife, and Claire falls into the trap of saying they’ve corresponded. The Duke of Sandringham is not married.

Black Jack has her hands tied behind her back and thrown over a table ready to ravish her or cut  her with a blade when Jamie appears at the window and orders Jack to take his hands off his wife. The look of pure joy on Black Jack’s face at seeing Jamie is terrifying.

And that is where they leave us until April 4th. Cruel, right.

My thoughts.

Everyone is trying in some way to get home. Jamie wants to return to his home and is willing to try and find a discredited soldier in order to do so. Claire knows what she feels for Jamie is love, but how can she have two husbands and two loves? Her one night of passion with Jamie is almost enough to make her forget Frank until she sees the stones. She runs to get back to her home, to her life, to her husband. And Frank without any hope of finding Claire, makes the difficult decision to leave Inverness to return to his home.

I can’t believe we have to wait seven long months…

Oh, I almost forget, we saw Roger has a young boy. 

Outlander, Episode Seven – The Wedding

Last night’s episode of The Wedding was sumptuous and tender and sexy and, sometimes, a bit funny. The writer’s leveled and squared the groundwork with the previous episodes, so that last night it was seamless perfection to see Jamie and Claire exchanging their vows and consummating their marriage. So much was riding on this one episode, because everything that is to come between Claire and Jamie truly started that night.

Claire wasn’t happy about marrying Jamie, not that she doesn’t like him, but she is still desperate to get back to stones. She loves Frank. I didn’t understand how much until I watched this series. In the book, Frank is almost a ghost of a character, while Jamie is vibrant. We’re shown a flashback of Claire walking with Frank to meet his parents. He stops her in front of the courthouse and asks her to marry him. The way she says yes, filled with hope and excitement, made me sad. How would I feel torn from the one I love? Tossed into a world where I don’t fit. Where everyone thinks I’m lying about who and what I am.

Jamie has no qualms about his feelings towards Claire. He’s been entranced by her since she took charge and snapped his shoulder back into place. He’s never pushed his feelings upon her, but instead has come to her aid while keeping his attentions respectful. When he walks into the room and Claire, nervous and her heart torn, is waiting for him, I felt myself hold my breath. Her under gown – she is still bustled and skirted – is delicate, though it keeps her waist and breasts synched. Jamie is ready for the bedding business, and yet, he’s extremely patient with Claire. She is not ready. She wants to talk. To hear about his family. To learn more about this “boy” she has been forced to marry.

On more than one occasion, Claire has called Jamie a boy. She hasn’t let herself think of him as a  man. Dougal she thinks of as an equal. She even told us as much when she thought he was the one she would marry. I’m not sure why Dougal didn’t marry her. He must have his reasons. Jamie…was the boy who was whipped, the one she mended, the one who recaptured her on the road to Castle Leoch, but not the one that she thought she’d be marrying.

After a lot of talking and laughing and quite a bit of whisky, the moment finally arrives. There  is nothing gratuitous or salacious in this scene of  two people who really don’t know each other well, anxious and nervous, coming together. The tenderness of Jamie turned me to goo. Truly, his expressions and the way he would touch Claire was lovely. And Claire, she is a truly beautiful woman with the most amazing skin, returns his tenderness.

He knew where to put things, but had a bit of trouble when he tried to take Claire from behind. What could have been extremely awkward was deftly handled by Claire, who turned to face him and they tumbled into the bed. The coupling didn’t take long, and Jamie was crushing her for a bit, but he quickly rectified that. Afterwards, he asked if she enjoyed it. When she hesitates, he says that he heard women don’t enjoy it like men do. Apparently the men gave him all sorts of pre-wedding advice. Claire, who we know to be very sexual from her time with Frank, smiles and says she enjoyed it very much.

There is more talking and sharing and feeling each other out until Claire rises from the bed pulling Jamie with him and asks to see him. Their first time he wore his long shirt and she was still wearing her shift. She runs her hand along his shoulder, down his legs and across his backside, and stands before him, looking him up and down. It’s a hot scene. He unties her shift and runs his hands over her skin. She asks if he’s seen a naked woman before. “Not one that is mine.” Oh… the way he delivered that line makes all the years of waiting to see this on the screen worth it! The sex this time is mutually satisfactory, and Claire gives him a taste of her knowledge by using her mouth on sweet Jamie.

With Jamie asleep, Claire wraps his tartan around her to go downstairs for some food. Dougal comes in and tells her that he’s just delivered the news to Black Jack Randall. He can’t touch her now. Dougal also declares how enthralled he is by Claire. That this marriage shouldn’t keep her from having a taste of other men….Dougal. Why didn’t Dougal marry her, if he felt this way? Why would he think that on her wedding night to Jamie, she’d even want to hear this? She puts him in his place and returns upstairs.

Through this episode we’re given scenes leading up the marriage. Of Ned, the attorney, in a whore house finding a dress for Claire. Rupert and Angus getting the blacksmith to convert Jamie’s key into a wedding ring for Claire. Not sure what the key goes to. How Claire had a hangover and didn’t remember much of the wedding. The priest being coerced to perform the ceremony, partly because Willie had a Bible verse joust with him, and partly because there was the promise stained glass windows . Jamie demanding that the ceremony be in a church and performed by a priest. Murtagh, Jamie’s godfather, saying that Claire’s smile reminded him of Jamie’s mother. Jamie placing his mother’s pearls around Claire’s neck.

The next day Jamie is dressed and going downstairs for breakfast. The two are relaxed in each other’s presence. They are like any young couple after a night of love making. As she’s picking up her gown from the floor,  the wedding ring Frank placed on her finger rolls out. She’d taken if off to marry Jamie. All the heartache and memories flood back at once as she slips it on.

Claire’s wedding dress.

















Jamie’s wedding attire:


My thoughts:

Bravo! I don’t think this could have been done better. I’ll probably wear out my remote replaying this episode.

Claire is a deeply loyal person. When she married Frank it was for life. Now her loyalties are torn. How can she left herself love Jamie when all she wants to do is escape back to her time. No matter what happens now, Claire’s heart will be broken. It’s a terrible situation to be in. She might never be able to make it back to the stones. Even if she does, it might not work. Or, perhaps, she will decide to stay, with Jamie.

The mid season finale Both Sides Now.




Outlander, Episode Six – The Garrison Commander

What a week! You know when everything hits at once, and you feel like it can’t possibly be Saturday already. I had intended to post about The Garrison on Sunday, and then on Tuesday, and then Thursday, and here it is Saturday and I’m just getting to it.

I’ve watched The Garrison three times now. The writers packed a lot in this episode.

The English, by and large, are buffoons. That’s what I came away with. The commanding generals aren’t in charge because of merit, but by the quirky fate of birth. The most able and competent are most likely subordinate to someone who’s never been responsible for anything.

Now, of course, as with all generalities this isn’t always the case. But I think it is valid in the opening sequence with Claire seducing the generals with charm and a good story. She even manages to take up for Dougal, as he stands there listening to the English comment about the Scottish and their savagery. Unlike, the generals, Dougal is a man who has earned his place in the world. He’s snubbed at the table, and takes his leave from Claire to go downstairs and have a proper drink, knowing for now, she is in no danger.

All that changes when Black Jack Randall, the Garrison Commander, comes stomping into the room announcing that Dougal  MacKenzie, a known Jacobite sympathizer, is downstairs. The officers chide Randall on his appearance. Ever notice how the least competent armies always have the most elaborate uniforms. Anyway, Randall sees Claire. Like a cat with a mouse, Randall stares at Claire for a long time deciding exactly how he should play with her. He begins by pretending he doesn’t know her, and then through verbal jousting lures her to express her sympathies for the Scottish. Claire makes the grave mistake of siding with the Scottish and saying that it is their land and that the English have invaded it.

Before this declaration the Commander had thought her a damsel in distress, an English Rose that must be rescued. Now, he’s shocked by her statement and tells her it is the King’s land. Thankfully, for Claire, there is commotion downstairs. A man has been injured by an ambush and she rushes down to offer assistance. Dougal takes her aside, telling her that Randall is about. She tells Dougal to make himself scarce, because they will blame Dougal and his men for it, though Dougal assures her that they have not.

After the amputation is over, Claire returns to the an all but empty room. Randall is there and informs her the others have taken after the attackers. All this is happening while a poor private is giving him a shave with the very blade that her husband, Frank, has. The shaving blade having been been passed down through the generations. It triggers a happy flashback for Claire with Frank, probably on leave during the war.

The nervous private cuts Randalls neck while trying to shave him. Randall is very still, and quiet, like a predator about to strike. I held my breath as he grabbed the boy and took the blade to his neck. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that Randall would slice the boys neck open and let him bleed out. He doesn’t, instead sending him out and ordering him to guard the room.

Claire has heard the stories about Black Jack Randall, and even more importantly, she’s had her own experience with him. Will he rape her? As he tried to do before. She knows he doesn’t believe one whit of her story. Randall’s technique as an interrogator are quite remarkable. He starts by asking for her reason to be in Scotland. When she starts with her story, he interrupts and says he wants the truth, that she will not leave this room until he has it.

Very convincingly Claire tells him it was an affair of the heart. That she followed an officer to Scotland. She thought he loved her, but it turned out he only wanted to seduce her. When she refused, he tried to rape her. Which is why she was running around in her shift.

It could be true. Claire even drops some tears. Randall isn’t a man moved by tears, or not moved  in the way that one would hope. He tells her that Scotland has changed him. Made him darker, driven, not that same man that he was in England. We are shown the flashback of Jamie being flogged for the second time. A hundred lashes administered by Randall. It’s a gruesome scene that I’d rather not write about or see again. It does show the sadistic tendency in Randall, and what he perceives as the masochistic tendency in Jamie. No matter how brutally Randall whips Jamie, he will not cry out. That silence from Jamie, stokes the dark desires of Randall. He feels a kinship with Jamie. That they are two parts of the same whole. That Randall could reveal himself to Jamie, could act out his desires with this man who can take as much abuse as he could give.

He plays on Claire’s sympathy asking if there is any hope for him. She is truly crying now. I don’t think it is because she feels sorry for Randall, but because she knows how dangerous he really is. He could do anything to her at this point. Randall says perhaps it would be best if she is escorted to Inverness, something the Commander had promised. He stands beside her chair to help her rise, and delivers are hard blow to her stomach, causing her to double over in pain and gasping for a breath. Grabbing her by the hair, he yells at her that he will have the truth. That she will testify that Dougal has been raising money for the Jacobite cause. Randall calls for the private and orders him to kick Claire. The poor boy has no option and reluctantly kicks her twice. Who knows how long this would go one, but Dougal storms into the room and helps Claire up.

Dougal, even outnumbered, commands respect. He demands Randall release Claire. Strangely, Randall does just that. Randall says she must be back tomorrow to speak with the Commander. Barely able to sit a horse, Claire rides out of the garrison. Thank God! Dougal takes her to a foul-smelling stream to drink from. He asks again if she is a spy. Poor Claire. She tells him that she is just plain Claire. Finally, thankfully, he believes her. But why? she asks. Because she drank from a stream that is magic. It will fry your gizzard – or something like that – if you tell a lie.

He has a plan that will keep her from having to go back to The Garrison. She must become Scottish. If she is Scottish, she can’t be forced to go back without the Laird’s approval. Claire must marry. She thinks Dougal is to be the groom. My favorite line of the night was Dougal’s response. “The thought of grinding your corn does tickle me.” But it’s not Dougal she will marry…..It’s Jamie.


Sitting on a log and reading the marriage contract Claire is interrupted by Jamie. He’s fairly subdued, but he isn’t unhappy about marrying Claire. She asks if he cares that she isn’t a virgin. He gives her a slightly bashful look and says no. He asks if she minds that he is. And adds that someone must know what their doing. Claire’s face is priceless here. She’s shocked and a little intrigued by his admission.

So, because of Frank’s ancestor, Black Jack Randall, Claire must marry another man…Think on that…

Tonight, The Wedding

10 Great Quotations for International Literacy Day


Great quotes for International Literacy Day

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

Today is International Literacy Day! What better time, then, to celebrate some of the wisest, wittiest, pithiest, silliest, and most profound things that writers have ever said about literature and reading? The following are 10 of our personal favourites from the last 21 months of Interesting Literature.

‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.’

– George R. R. Martin

Parents should leave books lying around marked ‘forbidden’ if they want their children to read.

– Doris Lessing

There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.

– P. G. Wodehouse

Cat with book

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.

– Charles Dickens

No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.

– Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

One always tends to overpraise a long…

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Outlander, Episode Five – The Rent

In our day, a lot can happen on a long road trip, and last night’s episode, The Rent, showed us that it wasn’t much different in the 1740s, except for the warm urine. Don’t fash yourself over that yet though, I’ll get to it.

Through the unbelievably scenic countryside of Scotland, Dougal leads his men, and Claire, to collect the rents from clansmen who could not attend the Gathering. Days on the road, going from village-to-village, accepting money, and grain, and foul, and some pigs, they ride. I’m not sure how long they are out in the Highlands, but it seems like at least a month. Long enough for Claire’s hair to grow. It’s definitely longer than when she first popped out of the stones into this time.

Claire is the only woman, and like today, being the lone woman in a group of men can be a challenge. She feels isolated, and lonely for her own time, for Frank, for something other than the drudgery of life on the road.

After all the rents are paid, the menfolk of the village and Dougal’s men meet in the village pub. He stirs them up with Sassenach talk, and though I don’t understand a word of Gaelic, and since Claire doesn’t either we aren’t given a translation, I can see that Dougal is impassioned about the subject and that it has to do with villager’s safety. Like a Southern Baptist preacher, he works the crowd into a frenzy that culminates with him ripping the shirt off Jamie’s back to show them his scars from being flogged by the English.

It was hard to watch this scene knowing how Jamie feels about his back. He sits there stoic, but seething with rage. The audience doesn’t know that he wants to pummel his Uncle Dougal. They think his emotion is for the cause. Claire is appalled as she watches the precious coins of the villagers being dropped into the coffers managed by Ned Gowen, clan attorney.

Ned is an interesting character. He’s an older gentlemen, and not inclined to sit by the fire and tell tall stories of the lasses and such. Claire and Ned become, if not friends, friendly over the long trek.  At each stop, Claire watches as Ned keeps one record for the village rents and another for what is given at the pubs. Since she doesn’t understand the language, she assumes it’s for protection. Either way she’s thinking that Dougal is cheating his brother Colum. Why she says this to Ned, I do not know. You’d think she’d keep quiet, but no, not our Claire, she babbles to Ned that she knows, or thinks she knows, what’s going on.

On their way to another village, they pass two men, long dead, and hung on crosses with the letter T cut into their chests. Traitors. The Redcoats have done this. These men were whispered to be stirring up the masses with talk of Bonnie Prince Charlie returning to Scotland and besting the English King. There was no trial, no evidence that they were Jacobites, only rumors heard by the Redcoats. If you hadn’t already figured it out, these are dangerous times.

In yet another village, Claire hears women singing. You have to remember, she’s been on the road for a long time with no female companionship. She follows the voices and encounters a village woman carrying a bucket. A Sassenach, even if she is a guest of Dougal’s, can’t be too welcome. But the woman invites her to the gathering. I’m thinking she’s more curious to see what Claire will do when she finds out the activity than scared of her.

A large damp looking bundle sits atop a long table with women seated on either side. A womanOUT_105-20140401-EM_0649.jpg pours the liquid from the bucket onto the bundle and they all started to stretch and pound it. Claire pulls back from the foul odor, warm urine. It seems this is the method of the time for dyeing wool. If you’re interested to learn more, I’ve linked to a site about this practice. I don’t know about you, but this would be the moment, I’d smile and say I had some urgent healing things to do. But Claire, made of tougher stuff than me, sits down and starts to pounding and singing.

A strong drink is served and Claire is clearly getting a wee bit tipsy as 1940s slang starts to slip through her lips. The bucket appears and is plopped on the floor. It would seem the refreshments have a purpose. Claire is encouraged to contribute to the buckets contents. Now, too inebriated to be self-conscious – and really with the skirts they wore no one would see anything – she centers herself over the bucket.

Before Claire can make her contribution, Angus stomps in cursing and red-faced and irritated as hell that she has alluded him. Claire, having just made buddies, is embarrassed to be dragged out and treated like a prisoner. She’s livid and demonstrative about not liking her treatment. Having heard from one of the mothers that they had to give their goat – the milk had been feeding the baby – for rent, Claire starts tugging at a tethered goat, determined to free it and give it to the mother. Dougal stomps up, irritated that she’s delayed their departure, and making a drunken show of herself.

Dougal grabs her and is about to drag her off to her mount when a man – an Englishman – asks if she needs assistance. The look on Claire’s face says everything. Yes, please, can you transport me the hell out of here. Or just keep talking, because I’ve missed the sound of an Englishman’s voice. This Englishman seems like a nice enough sort who is disturbed by the rough treatment of an Englishwoman. He persists in his questioning. Dougal’s men encircle her and Dougal tells him to piss off – couldn’t resist – in so many words. The Englishman sees he’s outnumbered and retreats. We follow him back to a tent where he slips on a English soldier’s coat, a Redcoat.

Another day of riding, another village visited and rents given, and a pub full of men being stirred up by Dougal’s words. At this point Claire doesn’t listen but sulks in the shadows, but this time is different, she hears a reference she’s heard before while Frank was searching for his ancestors. It’s to do with the Jacobite Rebellion. So, Dougal hasn’t been running a scam. He’s been raising money to bring Charles Stuart back to the throne of Scotland. They aren’t thieves but freedom fighters.

She knows their cause is doomed. That at the Battle of Culloden, the clans will be destroyed by the superior weapons of the English. Not only will thousands of Scotsmen be killed, but the British will take the laird’s lands and their whole way of life will come to an end.

Tucked in bed above the tavern below, Claire hears a noise outside her door, Armed with a candle holder, she opens the door and trips over Jamie. He’s curled up outside her door to protect her from any drunkards who might want a little tickle and giggle action. She snorts that’s not likely given she’s a Sassenach. I’m thinking it’s likely they would just because of that. She invites him to sleep inside the room with her where it is warm. Jamie’s surprised by her forwardness declines saying he wouldn’t want to ruin her reputation. She brings him a blanket and goes back to her bed.

Claire might not like being captive, but she doesn’t want to see these men killed. She tries to tell the attorney, Ned, that they will not win. He says that’s a matter of opinion, and looks at her a bit differently. It hasn’t seemed before that he thought she was a spy, but now, with her telling him that the brave Scot’s will lose to Englishmen, he walks away.

Claire has seen the cost of war. She knows firsthand what it smells like, the look of despair, the refugees created, the disease and starvation that follows in its wake. Not knowing what to do, or how to convince them this is a plan destined to fail, Claire goes off to wash. Dougal tells Angus he doesn’t need to follow her. She’s at a stream washing her arms when Dougal marches down the hill to confront her, wanting to know why she’s saying such things.

I love the scenes with Dougal and Claire, they’re both such strong characters – and good actors – and you can almost see the sparks shooting off of them as they spar with each other. Before Claire can explain the Englishman appears, in uniform, with other English soldier’s to surround them. He’s here to ask again if she needs help.

My thoughts:

I thought this episode trudged along a bit, but in the end I understood why it was needed. They want to show us the Scottish way of life before Culloden. How the system worked. How vast the land was that Colum ruled over. How much the people of Scotland wanted freedom from English rule. How mistreated they were by the English.

Though the scene was brief, I liked the interaction between Claire and Jamie. He’s showing her with actions that he cares for her. Like Claire, he’s educated, having been tutored in France. That though he’s obviously attracted to Claire, he will not tarnish her reputation, even if she wants him to.

And then there is Dougal who’s one part intrigued by Claire and one part mistrustful of her. There was really no need for her to come with them other than he wanted it so. Perhaps he wanted to get her out in the open and see what she’d do. To keep her footing off in hopes she’d break and tell him why she’s here. Or maybe, just because he likes to look at her, and subject her to his will. He’s an interesting combination of loyalty and ambition. He knows Colum’s time as Laird can’t last much longer. He wants to take over the position. Claire’s usefulness to the clan and him is evident. Does he want to take her for his own?

This is the first episode with no 1940s music playing in Claire’s head. Does this mean the future is slipping away from her? That she’s starting to believe she’ll never escape back to her time?

Interesting that on September 18th the Scottish will soon vote on whether or not to become an country.

The first season of Outlander is split into two halves. The first eight episodes air until September 27th. The second half to air in 2015. I have heard the exact date they will start yet.

For all things Outlander on Pinterest.

Outlander Podcast with Mary and Blake

I’m looking forward to next week’s episode, The Garrison.





Outlander, Episode Four – The Gathering

Last night’s airing of The Gathering puts us a quarter of the way through Outlander. Isn’t it wonderful that Starz is giving us sixteen episodes instead of the anemic ten or twelve that most series seem to get. I think it’s a tribute to the creative team of Outlander that Starz has put so much faith and money into this series. And that Starz wants to be known as an Emmy winning network. They might just get their wish, If not for the actors, surely for the sets, costumes, and music.

So what happened at The Gathering. A lot, actually. Claire is desperate to escape, but she isn’t foolhardy and not looking for a Outlander 104man to rescue her. No, Claire uses the children, including Hamish, and frolics around the guard stations and woods of Castle Leoch searching for escape routes. As you can imagine, Rupert and Angus are not amused, but being they’ve been ordered to follow Claire, they must tag along.





On their way back to the castle, they walk through the bustling camp site of families who’ve traveled to attend the oathtaking. Outlander 104 2Though Claire is desperate to get back to her own time, she finds happiness amongst the people of this time. We never once hear via voiceovers that Claire hates the limitations of life in the 1700s.It’s likes she’s slipped into this time as easily has one puts on a well-worn pair shoes.




Arriving back to her dungeon surgery, Claire is surprised to find Geillis waiting for her, having brought a bottle of something. Geillis is one of the most intriguing characters of this series. Everything about her is curious, and a bit creepy, ethereally beautiful, and perhaps deadly. A weaker character might confide in Geillis, or trust her, but Claire is not weak, and she is ever cautious when dealing with her. Geillis has been snooping around, and notes the stock of food. She warns Claire that the Highlands aren’t the place for a woman to be alone. She tells Claire that she came to Cranesmuir with nothing but her wits and her knowledge of herbs. That her husband isn’t much to look at, but he’s prosperous and has a good home, and it affords her the freedom she wants. Freedom is the key word here. Geillis doesn’t come right out and say that Claire is planning an escape, but she lets Claire know she knows, and proposes an alternate way to find freedom.

On the hunt for a weapon to take with her, Claire wanders down to the kitchens. With knife inOutlander 104 1 hand, ready to tuck into her voluminous skirt, Mrs. Fitz spies her and tells her she must attend the ceremony as she is Colum’s personal guest. Mrs. Fitz must have a closet full of clothes, because she outfits Claire in the prettiest gown so far this season. I wish I had a better picture, but like anything else, when you’re looking for something specific, it’s always elusive. Terry Dresbach has a lovely sketch and swatches of the material.



Watching from a balcony above, Claire witnesses the Oathtaking of the Mackenzie clansmen. Colum is the laird, head of the  Mackenzie clan, and responsible for the wellbeing of all his clansmen and their families. Colum’s disability does not seem to affect his ability to lead the clan, mainly because his brother, Dougal carries out the tasks that Colum cannot. It’s an interesting relationship, and we see a bit of the complexity when Dougal prepares himself to be the first to pledge himself to Colum. Even though he’s surrounded by people in the Great Hall of Castle Leoch, Dougal is always alone. He takes a moment to steady himself before approaching Colum. Does he wish his brother to step down and name him as Laird? Does he wish his brother were whole and hearty and didn’t need him as much? Probably a combination of both, as he clearly loves his brother, but also enjoys his power. After he bends a knee, he moves back to stand alone and takes a long drink of alcohol. Another year pledged, another year of waiting to rule.

Witnessing one Oathtaking is enough for Claire, who wants to retrieve her small satchel of provisions, and get to the stables and make her escape. Angus trails behind her, not wanting to leave the party, and tries to reason with her, and make her stay. Claire produces the bottle Geillis gave her and offers it to Angus. It’s port, she tells him, with a sedative. He has no idea what a sedative is, but enjoys the port, saying it is strong. Claire slips away to her surgery and is just leaving when Loaghaire appears in her doorway. She wants a love potion for Jamie. I wanted Claire to tell her she isn’t that type of healer, because I fear her giving Loaghaire a potion will come back to haunt her later. Remember how superstitious and fearful of witches the people of this time were. But Claire likes Loaghaire and provides her with dried horse dung as a love potion. She tells Loaghaire to sprinkle this on his (Jamie’s) threshold and click her heels three times while saying, There’s no place like love. Two weeks in a row we’ve had Wizard of Oz references. Last week it was Geillis red shoes, and now the no place like love, instead of no place like home.

Covered in a cape and making her way through the dark hallways of Castle Leoch, Claire is almost out when she’s assaulted by men who aren’t the type to take no for an answer. She’s pinned against the wall by them, and seconds away from rape when Dougal drags them off of her and sends them packing. Until this scene, I hadn’t really thought of any alternative reasons for Dougal to want to keep Claire. He’s stated he thinks she’s a spy, and wanted to keep her close. But in this scene, which I thought was extremely powerful, it is obvious he desires Claire. The way he bends his head to rest against her shoulder and touches her face like she’s the most beautiful and fragile thing he’s ever encountered. He wants her and he wants her now and feels it’s his due since he saved her from ravishment. Claire fights back and slaps him. Dougal moves away from her and leans against the wall. I wish I could express how well Graham MacTavish, the actor who plays Dougal, conveyed anger and desire with his eyes. It’s clear the ladies don’t deny his advances. He’s stated that he doesn’t rape women. Claire’s refusal of his advances only makes him want her more. Claire has to get past Dougal before she can leave. Always clever, she stares down at the satchel and when Dougal looks away she bashes him over the head with a chair.

Finally, free of the castle she’s makes her way to the stables and trips over a sleeping Jamie. He explains her plan is foolhardy as Colum has increased the guards posted through the woods, and the best trackers in the clan are in attendance. They will find her before morning. But she can’t return, because she knocked Dougal out. I loved Jamie’s grin as he explains Dougal was drunk and probably wouldn’t remember, even if he did, he wouldn’t want to admit a woman got the best of him. Jamie escorts her back, but before she can enter through a tunnel, Jamie is discovered by clansmen and forced into going to the great hall.

We still don’t truly know who Jamie is, because we’re seeing everything through Claire’s point of view. But as she Outlander 104 3watches Jamie stand in line to bend a knee to Colum, Murtaugh explains that Jamie can’t pledge his allegiance to Colum, because to do so could put him in line to be the successor of Colum. Hamish, Colum’s son, is too young to succeed him. Dougal would be an obvious choice, but Jamie does have a claim if he pledges to the MacTavish clan. If Jamie takes the pledge, Dougal would kill him. If Jamie doesn’t pledge, the clan will. Jamie parses his words carefully and doesn’t pledge, but does say he will obey Colum while he is on MacTavish land. Colum is highly intelligent and wants to keep all options open, so he accepts Jamie’s non-pledge.

Claire’s presence is commanded at the boar hunt. She isn’t happy about it, but follows along with her medical supplies. A young man is gored in the leg by a boar. Claire wraps the wound and is about to take him back to the castle when she hears a man screaming in agony. Remember she’s a World War II nurse. She’s seen the wounds caused by the clash of human bodies against bullets and bombs and poison gas and the machinations of industrialized war. She rushes through the woods and into a grouping of boars. She can’t see them, but can hear them, angry and frightened and ready to attack anything. Seconds before she is gored by a rushing boar, Dougal shoots the beast and it falls at her feet. She is left heaving, unable to gain a full breath in the confines of her corset. She steadies herself and goes to find the injured man. Dougal is holding him as Claire inspects his wounds. He’s been gored in his leg and gut. Claire signals to Dougal that he won’t live.

Dougal has impressed me almost as much as Jamie. The right arm of Colum isn’t just an enforcer, he’s a strategist, and has many layers to his personality. Dougal is loyal to his clansmen, and holds the dying man telling him he won’t leave. Claire asks the dying man about his home, and turns his mind, as much as possible, to something beautiful. The two of them, Claire and Dougal, stay with him until he dies.

The scene is sober as the hunting party – the dead man covered on a horse’s back – arrives back at the castle. A game of Outlander 104 4Shinty is underway. The perfect way for Dougal to release his tension, anger, and whatever else is seething beneath his exterior. He throws himself into the game and focuses all his aggression on Jamie. Remember when Jamie took the thrashing for Laoghaire? How harsh Dougal was with him. Well, we now understand a bit more why Dougal has it out for Jamie. 




In her surgery, Claire attends to her herbs and potions when Dougal enters, telling her she’s soon to be freed from her dungeon-like quarters. He’s decided to take her with him as he collects the rents for Colum. She isn’t sure of his motives, but surely there must be a way she could escape while on the road.







The last scene of this episode is Claire riding out from the castle. Will she ever return? Will she make her way back to the stones?









My thoughts about this episode. The 1740s in the Highlands of Scotland was a dangerous place to be. There were no antibiotics, no knowledge of germs, or the benefits of basic hygiene, of infection. Anything could kill you. Much of your destiny was determined by birth. What clan you were born into. The wealth of your family. Not to mention gender. Women, even the strongest, needed a man. Time and again we’re reminded of this fact in the show. Without the MacKenzie’s, Claire would be in the clutches of Black Jack Randall. But were they really her rescuers? Yes, and no. I cringe at what Captain Randall would subject her to, but she’s now a prisoner of the MacKenzie’s. How will she escape?

Unfortunately there is much more that happens in each episode than I can relay here. The lushness of the sets, and costumes, combined with great acting and music is a feast for the senses.

Be sure and check out my giveaway of a signed copy of Outlander.

I haven’t found a valid preview of Episode Five – Rent. I’ll upload to a post once I do.