Previously on Outlander: Claire Randall travelled back in time to 1743 and found herself a prisoner/guest of the Clan MacKenzie.
Claire flashes back to the day her husband saw her off to war and she gave him shit for trying to use his connections to keep her away from the most dangerous places. He realises it’s impossible to argue with her and helps her onto the train. They kiss and exchange promises to be together again.
In the 18th century, Claire flinches through a cold-water bath and Mrs Fitz comments on how nice Claire’s skin is and how lucky her next husband will be. That makes Claire sad and she tells Fitz her husband’s not dead, he just hasn’t been born yet. Like any normal person, Fitz is seriously confused, so Claire explains that she seems to have travelled through time. Yes, this seems like a really good idea, Claire, and not a situation where you’re likely to be accused of insanity or witchcraft or both. Claire mentions the stones and Fitz admits she’s heard strange tales of the stones. Claire desperately says she’s not an English spy, she’s just from the future. Riiight. Claire says she needs to get back to the stones and wonders if the MacKenzies will help her if she explains. Oh, for heaven’s sake, Claire. Fitz accuses her of being an evil daemon and a witch…
…and then Claire wakes up, having apparently drifted off while Fitz is brushing her hair and talking about a major gathering of the whole clan that’s coming up. Everyone comes to swear loyalty to Colum and Claire wonders if maybe she can use this to secure her release.
She begins applying herself to studying the medical (well, ‘medical’) books in the workshop, figuring that curing all manner of bumps and fevers will help Dougal and Colum stop looking on her as a threat. CVO bemoans having to find a way to apply 20th century medicine, using only what she has available to her in the 18th century. She manages to find some herbs and things that she condescendingly figures could be helpful and gets to work patching some people up. Gradually, her guards get bored and start spending their time in the kitchen. When Claire goes to fetch them for a task at one point, her attention is drawn to a woman who’s really upset. Fitz kindly sends the woman home and tells Claire that the woman just lost a son. Claire asks why she wasn’t fetched and hears that the boy was cursed after visiting the old Benedictine monastery, better known as the Black Kirk. Right on cue, the dead boy’s best friend, Tammas (also Mrs Fitz’s nephew, of course) comes in to fetch Claire to Colum.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]This seems like a really good idea, Claire, and not a situation where you’re likely to be accused of insanity or witchcraft or both.[/cryout-pullquote]
She obediently goes to see him and VOs that she wishes she could help him somehow, to alleviate his pain and win him over further. He’s being fitted for a new coat by a tailor who’s trained up in Edinburgh and is super stoked to do a coat for the laird of his wife’s clan, but Colum accuses the man of mocking him by making the coat longer than is standard. He shouts that he has nothing to be ashamed of and grabs a knife as the poor man quakes and pleads. Colum orders up a standard frock coat and have it ready by the following day. The tailor hastens out. Good luck, Claire!
Colum asks her to do some therapeutic massage on him, as her predecessor, Davy, used to. Claire readily agrees and prepares to get started, suggesting she massage the base of his spine instead of just his legs. He pulls up his shirt, exposing his bottom, not that she has any problem with that. She begins rubbing and, in the course of asking for hot water, the conversation turns to the dead boy, Lindsay. Colum, too, thinks the devil is behind this and wonders what he did to make the devil punish him with his legs. He tells her that she’s helping the pain quite a bit and invites her to hear a bard sing in the hall that evening, presumably as a sort of reward.
That night, Claire goes to the hall and avails herself of the wine, because she hasn’t quite learned that lesson yet. Dougal sidles up and says he hears she has the healing touch. He comments that it appears the feral cat they picked up at the side of the road is starting to pull in her claws. She sarcastically thanks him for that and leaves to find a better spot. Laoghaire, the girl Jamie saved from being beaten, takes a seat beside her and Claire strikes up a conversation. Jamie sits with them and Claire tries to matchmake between him and Laoghaire a bit, but Jamie doesn’t seem all that interested. The bard gets started, playing a harp and singing in a language other than English. I can’t tell if it’s Gaelic or Welsh. Jamie explains that the bard has been at the castle for many years; Jamie spent a year at Leoch when he was 16 and the man was there even then. Laoghaire tries desperately to get his attention, saying she remembers him being there back then, and does he remember her? He dismissively says no. Ouch, Jamie. He notes the glass of wine in Claire’s hand and she admits she’s had two or three glasses. Sigh. She offers him the rest of the wine and Laoghaire gives her an ‘are you kidding me, lady?’ sort of look. The song ends and Jamie asks if Claire would have a look at his dressing, because it’s been chafing him. She agrees, so he hands the empty glass off to poor Laoghaire and leaves. Nice.
He takes her back to the surgery and says that was just a ruse: he figured he should get her back there while she could still walk. She giggles that she did overdo it a bit. Which is no big deal for someone with an enormous secret to keep, right? I mean, she was struggling to lie convincingly while sober. Turns out, though, that the dressing has been bothering him, and when she says she could have taken it off him the other day at the stable, he says he didn’t want to do so in front of Alec, and reveal his scarred back. He feels like, if Alec saw that, he’d never be able to look at Jamie again without seeing that. But with Claire it’s ok, because she can handle it and not make Jamie feel pitiful about it. He goes to leave, but first she offers to look at his wound. She undoes his shirt and looks, noting that it seems to be doing well. She tells him he can take the bandages off in a few days and bids him goodnight. Won’t Colum find it rude that she ditched out on the bard’s performance after just one song, when he specially invited her to be there?
Claire sets out the following morning to collect herbs, accompanied by Murtagh, who complains about the early start. They run into Geillis, who gossips that Father Bain wants to perform an exorcism on little Tammas Baxter, who’s been seized by the same evil as poor dead Lindsay. Claire pumps her for details and Geillis just says the boy is possessed. She notes Claire’s scepticism and asks if she doesn’t believe in magic or powers beyond our understanding? Claire brings the conversation back to Tammas and says it’s possible the boy’s just sick. Geillis warns her that she’ll challenge this at her own peril, because everyone believes the kid’s possessed. Claire, of course, doesn’t really care ,because self-preservation is not one of her strongest suits, and she stomps off, trailed by Murtagh, who asks where she’s going.
She heads into town, to the Baxter home, despite Murtagh warning her that Colum won’t like her interfering. That makes her pause, but she says that a priest once told her that her healing skills were a gift from God, and in she goes.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Geillis seems unconcerned. I guess chopping off children’s hands is commonplace in this town or something[/cryout-pullquote]The kid’s been strapped down to the bed where he lies, moaning. Mrs Fitz is there and says the boy’s mother has gone for the priest. He begins to gasp and Mrs Fitz says it’s the demons again. Claire examines him, CVO telling us that there’s no fever, so it’s not an infection, but he is showing signs of poisoning. She asks the kid what he’s eaten recently and Fitz says he brings everything up. He begins hallucinating, another symptom of poisoning, and Claire asks for help cutting his bindings. Fitz warns her not to do that, and then the priest comes in, and man, does this guy have ‘Creepy Zealot’ written all over him. He crosses the boy and begins flinging holy water on him while chanting in Latin. Claire tells the mother and Fitz that they need to let some fresh air in, but they’re putting their faith in the priest. Claire leaves in disgust.
Back at the castle, Murtagh asks if she could feel the devil’s presence. She says she did not and CVO complains that she may not be able to help the boy with the limited resources at hand. She plonks down on a seat near the kitchen that gives her a good view of Jamie making out with Laoghaire in a nearby room.
At dinner, she teases Jamie about his swollen lip, asking if he got hit by a horse. He lies that he did and she playfully says that he should be careful, because those fillies can be dangerous. He tries to warn her to shut up, but she presses on, so he leaves and the man sitting next to him warns Claire not to let Colum or Laoghaire’s father know about Jamie messing around with her, because it could go quite badly for him. He could wind up being forced to marry the girl, and this guy knows that’s not the sort of wife for Jamie, who needs a woman, not a kid. Claire looks slightly abashed. CVO unnecessarily tells us that she feels badly and is jealous of the intimacy Jamie and Laoghaire had, and she misses Frank. She goes out to the garden for a cry and Dougal finds her there and offers to take her to see Geillis the next day so she can restock her store of cures ahead of the gathering.
The next day, they ride into town and Geillis hooks her up with some supplies and brings up Claire’s visit to the Baxters’. Claire pours scorn on the priest and his methods and Geillis warns her to steer clear of the man, because he hates women. Claire admits she feels like a stranger in a strange land. Their attention is caught by a ruckus in the square below. The priest is steering some young boy along and Geillis carelessly explains that the boy was probably caught stealing and is now being taken to her husband for justice. Sadly, the kid’s unlikely to find it, because Arthur’s in a crap mood, so the boy’ll probably lose his hand. Geillis doesn’t seem concerned by this at all. I guess chopping off children’s hands is commonplace in this town or something. Either that, or she seriously hates kids.
Her husband comes limping in and begs his wife for some peppermint to ease his ‘roiling gut.’ Geillis dispenses it and he rips off a massive fart. Claire starts to plead for the boy, asking Arthur not to go mutilating a child just for stealing a couple of bannocks, no matter what the evil priest wants. Geillis employs more subtle methods, kneeling before him and appealing to his tenderness (and the hots he’s got for his way out-of-his-league wife), so he agrees just to give the boy an hour in the pillory and one ear nailed. Apparently, that’s what they call getting off lightly in the highlands.
He leaves and Geillis is like, ‘see how it’s done?’ Claire asks what one ear nailed means and Geillis laughs that it means having an ear nailed to the pillory, of course. Really, who doesn’t know that? Outside, the boy is sat on a bench next to the pillory, his head held still by Father Bain, and a spike is driven through his earlobe. Bain says he’ll now be absolved. Right. Geillis sets the herbs to steep and tells Claire they can go have a nice glass of port and share their secrets, like girlfriends do.
A little later, cradling her port, Claire looks out at the boy as Geillis asks how she doesn’t know about having one’s ear nailed to a pillory. Claire says things are different where she came from. She also tells Geillis she was brought up all over the place and Geillis’s eyes gleam as she asks to hear all about it. A servant interrupts, annoying Geillis, who was probably hoping for something juicy here, and ushers in Jamie (of course) who’s been sent to fetch Claire back, since Dougal was called back to the castle. Geillis offers him some port so Claire can tell them both about her unusual upbringing, but he excuses them both, saying they really need to get back.
Outside, Claire asks how long the boy has to stay there and Jamie says he can leave whenever he wants, he just needs to tear himself loose first. Oh, come on, people! Who comes up with this stuff? Claire subtly suggests Jamie do the kid a right and pull the nail out, and Jamie agrees. But apparently they can’t just go over and show the kid some compassion, they have to do a whole production that involves Claire pretending to faint to distract the crowd while Jamie frees the boy and tells him to get home. Geillis watches this all from her window, smiling. Jamie helps Claire up and she thanks him, knowing he just took a risk. He says he couldn’t very well have a wee Sassenach lassie being braver than he. She takes advantage of this and asks if he’ll help her with something else.
Off they go to the Black Kirk, which is a very picturesque ruin. Claire finds it peaceful and not at all what she expected. Jamie puts that down to Satan’s cleverness. You won’t catch too many souls laying your traps in unpleasant places. And apparently more than a few young souls have flown, thanks to this place. But visiting the place has long been a way for local boys to prove their manhood. Jamie went there once, along with a cousin, who sickened and died. She asks Jamie if he really believes all this. He tells her he was well educated, but he’s also a highlander and doesn’t believe in tempting fate by spitting in the face of Old Nick. She asks what boys do when they come up here and he says they mostly just play and then eat some berries and local wood garlic. He shows Claire where it grows and she says this isn’t wood garlic, it’s lily of the valley, which is poisonous. How would you get those two mixed up? Those leaves look nothing like wild garlic leaves. Nor would they taste like garlic. Apparently lily of the valley’s not native to Scotland and was probably brought by the German monks who built the place.
Claire goes back to the Baxters’, where the boy is all but dead, and tells the mother and Mrs Fitz about what she’s found. She says she can give him something to counteract the poison, but she has to move quickly. Bain calls this blasphemy, roaring that he’s the lord’s disciple and the only one qualified to cast out this daemon. Claire insists that the boy’s problem is physical, not spiritual, but we’re in the highlands, which apparently is backwards land here, and Bain won’t hear it. Fitz orders him to step aside, quite fiercely, which is great, and tells Claire to tend to the boy. Bain says he smells the vapours of hell on Claire. Claire ignores him and gives the boy a decoction of belladonna, which should lower his heart rate, as long as she’s gotten the dosage right. If not, then he’ll die within minutes. He does not die. Happily, he quickly comes around and his mother cluelessly calls this a miracle. Bain stomps out in a snit, telling Claire that God will have the last word. I think he just did, Bain.
Later, Claire and Jamie groom a horse and she sniffs that she’s pretty sure Bain would have preferred to see the boy die than see her save him. Jamie says the man has his beliefs, and if you take those away, what does he have left? On the upside, Mrs Fitz now calls her the miracle worker. Claire only cares if she’s earned Colum’s respect. Jamie says Colum’s happy to have brought her on as a healer and doubts she’ll be allowed to leave anytime soon. Claire practically groans at how badly this has backfired.
She considers just staying in her room for a while to avoid the ‘mixture of awe and suspicion’ that she feels follows her everywhere, since now she’s performed a miracle. But she returns to the great hall for the bard’s next performance and VOs that, even if she gets back to the stones, there’s no guarantee she’ll be tossed back to her own time. She adds that the wine was what finally brought her out of her room. I realise she’s in a stressful situation, and that in such circumstances many people tend to…self-medicate more than they normally would, but I still can’t help but wonder if Claire has a little bit of a problem with alcohol. She knows that the first night she let her guard down because she got drunk and that that was a bad thing, and yet she continues to purposely get drunk, which just seems really stupid.
Jamie comes over and grabs her as soon as she enters the room and takes her to where he’s sitting. He interprets the song for her. It’s about a man who hears the sound of a woman singing by some ancient rocks. She sings about wind rising and putting her hands on the tallest stone and travelling to a distant land, where she lived amongst strangers who became lovers and friends. One day, she touched the stones again, and travelled back to her own time and took up again with the man she left behind. Well, how very, very on the nose this is. Way too on the nose, really. Claire decides to take the song as truth and decides not to wait for permission, but to escape the castle and get herself back to the stones, or die trying.