Previously on Outlander: Claire accompanied Dougal et al on a trip across MacKenzie lands that was both to collect rents and raise money for the upcoming Stuart uprising. She also crossed paths with a British lieutenant posing as a blacksmith, who tracked her down to ask if she’s ok.
We pick up right where we left off, with the lieutenant asking Claire if she’s with Dougal by choice. She reassures him that she’s a guest of the clan. Why did she do that? Was she that worried about what these guys would do to Dougal if she said he was keeping her prisoner? That’s quite generous of her, considering how obsessed she is with getting away from these people.
The lieutenant insists that she come and speak to his commanding officer, and Dougal says he’s coming along as well. Claire agrees to this little detour. As they ride, CVO talks about how relieved she is to be surrounded by ‘her own people’ who look on her with sympathy and respect. See, Claire? So, why were you willing to stick it out with Dougal instead of throwing yourself onto the soldier’s horse as soon as he arrived? Eh, whatever. They ride to a nearby inn and dismount. The lieutenant orders his men to see to their own horses’ care, as he doesn’t trust the Scots with them, then asks Claire and Dougal to come with him.
He brings them inside, where his commanding officer, a Lord, is enjoying lunch with some of the other officers. The man is delighted to see a lady and gallantly greets her, saying the lieutenant claims she has quite the story to tell. When did he tell the Lord that? They only just walked in. Lord invites her to sit and enjoy the venison and the ‘surprisingly edible’ cheese (oh, please. Scottish cheese is awesome) and claret. He then asks Foster who Dougal is and gets an introduction. The Lord is Sir Oliver Lord Thomas, commanding officer of the Northern British army. Oliver looks over Dougal and declares he looks the part of a war chief. When Dougal speaks, Oliver says he can’t understand a word. Yes, Oliver’s quite the snotty Southern douche. And so are the others at the table. Oliver behaves as if Dougal’s not a human being with ears and talks about him like he’s not in the room, and Dougal’s response is essentially, ‘you know, assholes like you are the reason why the SNP is going to be REALLY popular in about 250 years’. Claire defends him, pointing out that there are plenty of places in England where the local accent is difficult to parse. Dougal suggests Oliver go back to London, if that’s the sort of speech he likes to hear. Oliver gets a bit dangerous and says he’d love to go back to London, if the Scots could just learn to behave. He continues being insulting to Dougal, who calls him out on behaving like an ass in front of Claire. Claire calls a truce and calms things, which impresses Oliver, who observes that she sure knows how to order men about. He seems kind of turned on by that. Dougal, of course, is not invited to stay for lunch, not that he minds. He tells Claire he’ll be downstairs and leaves. Oliver wonders how they’ll ever make peace with such impolite people.
Lunch goes on, and everyone’s charmed by Claire, who tells them all the story of how she came to be there. She says she hopes her adventure is now over, though she’s found Scotland to be a beautiful place. She just wants to be reunited with her family. Oliver understands and tells Lieutenant Foster to escort her to Inverness. Claire is so pleased she dips right back into the wine. They drink to homeward journeys. As they drink, Black Jack Randall bursts in. Oliver yells at him for ‘putting the claret at risk’. Randall goes to leave, but he notices Claire and they stare at each other for a few moments. When Oliver asks, however, Randall claims not to know her, she just looked like someone he knew. Oliver introduces them. Randall goes to the hallway and makes a bit show of shaking the dust off his coat before coming back in and refusing a glass of wine. He tells Oliver that Dougal’s downstairs at this very moment. Oliver’s like, ‘yeah, I’m aware.’ Randall clearly thinks Oliver is an idiot, but he can’t call out a superior officer. Oliver says that Claire’s got a great story to tell, and maybe Randall should accompany her to Inverness so she can tell him. Foster mentions that Claire claims she was well treated by her Scottish friends and Randall tightly says he wasn’t aware that the English had any Scottish friends, and he’s sure Private McGreavy would agree, if he could. Oliver orders him not to mention that sad subject in front of Claire, but Claire insists she can handle it, so Randall tells her that McGreavy wandered off his patrol and was found two days later sitting under a tree, legs crossed, cradling his severed head. Claire agrees it was a sad day when he got stationed in Scotland. ‘Is that all you have to say?’ Randall asks her. Claire tells him about the hanged Highlanders she and the others came across the day before. The men insist that’s just justice at work. Claire says that she’s pretty sure it was administered without any trial, so neither side here has clean hands.
Randall changes tactics and implies that Claire’s been sleeping with Dougal. She calls that a scurrilous charge and Oliver tells him he’s crossing the line. She continues that the Scots just want the same freedom the English enjoy, they just want the English off their land. Oliver says it’s the king’s land and that he finds her sympathies puzzling. She backpedals and claims she’s totally loyal to the king. Randall suggests she’s been with the savages too long and Oliver agrees she should be returned to her family ASAP. Claire offers to leave for Inverness immediately, if he wants.
A soldier bursts in and informs the men that three soldiers have been fired upon. One dead, two wounded, and they can’t find the surgeon. Claire goes to tend to him.
Downstairs, Dougal immediately asks if she’s ok, because he saw Randall go up there. She reassures him she’s fine and asks if his men were behind this. He swears they weren’t. She warns him that the redcoats will be looking for someone to blame, so he should really make himself scarce. She kicks into battlefield mode and checks the man’s wound. It’s bad: his arm will have to be amputated. One of the soldiers offers up his recently sharpened sword. She ties a tourniquet and calls for clean bandages and boiling water just as the surgeon arrives. A wooden peg is put between the private’s teeth and the surgeon begins horrifically sawing through the guy’s arm as other soldiers and patrons drinking their ale wince. I think everyone’s going to need a few more drinks after that.
Afterwards, Claire goes back upstairs, where she finds Randall being shaved by an underling. She flashes back to giving Frank a shave during the war, which was a much sexier interaction than this one. I think she’s using the same blade Randall is—apparently it’s a family heirloom. The underling cuts Randall a little and apologises. Randall takes the blade and orders the young man to sit down. He holds it up to his throat and tells him to control his nerves, not allow them to control him. He allows the frightened young man to leave and rinses the suds off his face.
Claire asks to see Foster, only to learn that he and Oliver are out. She asks who’s going to take her to Inverness and Randall tells her that her outburst earlier has now put her loyalty in a questionable light. Man, she can’t go anywhere without someone accusing her of being a spy. He regards her for a moment, and then offers an apology for having attempted to rape her that first time they met. He claims he’s not a casual person with women and hopes to someday reveal his true nature to her, and have his honesty met with honesty. She promises that will be the case. He invites her to sit and they face off across the table. He asks for her story and she starts to give him the spiel, but he cuts her off and says she’s already lying, because he doesn’t know of any Beauchamps in Oxfordshire. She slips up and reveals she knows he’s from Sussex. He asks how she knows that and she says his accent gives it away. He asks if she speaks French and she says she does. He comments that she doesn’t look like a prostitute, and she’s like, ‘uh, thanks?’
She admits she made some ill-advised comments, but that shouldn’t prevent her from continuing her journey. He reminds her that he found her wandering around in her underwear and was then struck down by a man who’s part of a band of Scottish rebels led by the man who accompanied her to the inn that day. She’s either an idiotic slut or a spy. She asks if those are her only two choices. He asks if she has another and she paints a story about falling in love with a soldier who was stationed in Scotland, so she followed him. At that point, she found out that he was a rake, and when she refused to sleep with him he attacked her, and she fled, dressed only in her shift. She asks him to prove to be the gentleman he claims to be.
Randall retrieves a knife from his jacket, sharpens a pencil, and starts sketching her on a napkin. As he works, he asks the man’s name. Claire asks not to have to reveal it, as she fears she’ll ruin his career and reputation. He asks for her opinion of the sketch and she declares it a good likeness. He says he’ll call it Beautiful Lies. He then reveals he knows Dougal’s raising money for the Jacobite cause, but he has no proof of it. Claire will furnish him with that proof, and in return, she’ll get taken to Inverness. She starts to say she has no idea what he’s talking about but Randall dismisses that lie. She insists she’s never seen them raise money or speak Jacobite treason, which she points out would be a dumb thing for them to do in front of an Englishwoman. Yeah, that is pretty stupid of them, even if they are speaking Gaelic. Claire shuts down the questioning and says she’ll just sit tight and wait for Lord Thomas’s return. Randall tells her that she won’t leave the room until she’s satisfied him that she’s innocent, and if she doesn’t play ball, he’ll just torture her. She asks if he plans to flog her, as he has others? She brings up Jamie, referring to him as a ‘poor Highlander boy’ who received more than 100 lashes.
Randall informs her that the boy is a wanted thief and murderer, which is news to Claire, because she’d only heard that he stole a loaf of bread. How very Jean Valjean of him. Randall tells her that this thief had been flogged before for trying to escape, but he refused to break. He didn’t make a single sound throughout the punishment, which sets a bad example to the others, so something had to be done. Randall himself stepped up and ordered up another 100 lashes, administered by himself. We get to watch all of this in flashback, by the way, so we get some nice shots of Jamie’s ripped up flesh. Randall pokes it and Jamie flinches in pain but makes no sound. Randall notes that he’s shaking and asks if he’s afraid. Jamie says he’s just worried he’ll freeze stiff before Randall’s done talking. Randall promises to break him and gives him a nice punch to the gut before taking off his jacket, unstrapping his sword, and preparing the cat o’nine tales. Back at the inn, briefly, Randall tells Claire that the thought of the whip coming down over that scourged flesh made him feel ill. He sits down and sighs and says he intended to pace himself, since 100 lashes can really wear out the biceps. But since Jamie still didn’t cry out, Randall just went to town. Even the soldiers have a ‘Jesus, man, take it easy!’ look on their faces, and then one of them faints. The crowd laughs and Randall totally loses it. It’s so awful the crowd looks away in absolute horror and Jamie passes out and starts to bleed from the mouth. I don’t know how anyone could survive a beating like that.
At the inn, Randall says the crowd could only see the horror, but he could see the beauty: he and Jamie were creating an exquisite, bloody masterpiece. Ooookaaaaay. He tells Claire it was the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. She’s crying, as well she might. This guy’s scary as hell and that’s a horrifying story. He tells her he’s revealed his true self to her and she agrees that he has. He figures she thinks he’s a monster, and yeah, maybe he is. She says that the fact that he cares what she thinks gives her some hope for his soul. Uh, Claire, he just waxed poetic about beating a man to raw strips of flesh. He’s a nut! Run! He says he’s not the man he once was, that he came to Scotland to serve his king and protect his country, but he finds himself the watchman of squalid, ignorant, superstitious people and it’s allowed a darkness and a hatred to grow within him. He finds himself doing terrible things now and can hardly recognise himself. Claire reassures him he’s not the first soldier to be changed by combat, but the fact that he can admit to it is another hopeful sign that there’s a better person buried within him. ‘It would be pretty to think so,’ he says sadly. She reassures him he can win back his humanity. He asks if he may someday e able to look at his own reflection and not be filled with loathing. She does. He muses over the idea of rehabilitating himself and offers to begin by escorting her to Inverness. She smiles and he seems happy to have made her happy.
He calls in his underling, Hawkins, and says he and Claire require his assistance. As Claire gets up and starts to thank him, he sinks a fist into her stomach, winding her and taking her down to the ground. As she gasps for air, he drags her head up by the hair and tells her that he dwells in darkness. I’ll say. He promises to get the truth out of her, one way or the other. He calls over Hawkins and asks if he’s ever kicked a woman.
Hawkins: The hell?
Randall: No, really, it’s really cathartic. Have a go.
Hawkins clearly doesn’t want to do this, but Randall’s a superior office, and a scary bastard, so he reluctantly does so. ‘You see? They’re so soft,’ says Randall. Shudder. He tells Hawkins to go again, but just then Dougal explodes through the door and immediately goes to get Claire. Two soldiers come in in his wake and Dougal say she doesn’t want to fight them, but he totally will if he has to. Randall says he has no right to Claire while she’s being questioned by a British officer. Dougal claims her as a guest of the clan and must be returned to Dougal for protection. Randall claims he has more questions, but Dougal counters that he won’t be asking them on MacKenzie land, unless he wants to start a war. I kind of thought there was already a bit of war on. Randall chuckles but agrees to let them go, so long as Claire is delivered to Fort William by sundown the next day, on pain of death. Dougal helps her out of the room and Randall creepily tells her he’s looking forward to their next meeting. I’ll bet he is.
Dougal and Claire gallop away, though CVO admits she wasn’t really up for a rough ride. Dougal, thankfully, stops them near a really lovely little river and Claire goes to take a drink. As she gulps the water down, he draws a short sword and asks her once again if she’s a spy for the English or the French, promising this is the last time he’ll ask. She fiercely tells him she’s not a spy, she’s just a woman. He sheathes the sword and says he knows now that she’s telling the truth. Apparently this water is known as the liar’s spring, and if you drink from it and lie, it’ll burn your gizzard out. Claire scoffs a bit at the idea of a magic spring and tells Dougal Randall will take a bit more convincing. Dougal says she won’t have to see Randall again as long as she does what Dougal tells her. Apparently, an English officer can’t compel a Scottish person to do anything unless there’s proof of a crime. Even then, a Scottish subject can’t be forced from clan lands without permission from the laird himself. Apparently Dougal anticipated this problem and had a word with Ned about the law. But, in order for this to work, Claire has to become Scottish. And how shall she do that? Through marriage! Claire refuses, but it’s either that or prison. She figures she’s to be married to Dougal, but he tells her that, though he’d love to have a chance to do her, he’s got someone else in mind…
Yes, that’s right, it’s Jamie! Of course it is, because he’s the hottest one here. I can’t quite fathom why Dougal isn’t trying to marry her, since as he said he finds her attractive and we don’t know of any wife to stand in the way. And she could just as easily be married off to one of the other guys in the group—maybe one without a price on his head and a nasty history with Randall? But ok, we’ll go with it, because this is clearly just a very transparent way of manoeuvring these two into hooking up.
Later, having had the situation explained to him, Jamie brings Claire a drink. She’s surprised to hear he’s willing to do this. He feels he owes her for having patched him up. Wow, Jamie, this is one hell of a payback for her first aid skills. Also, he’s not about to leave her to the mercies of Randall. She figures he’s got to have a girlfriend of his own choosing somewhere but he explains that he’s not much of a prospect for a wife, having only a soldier’s pay to live on and a price on his head. So, full steam ahead for him. She asks if it bothers him that she’s not a virgin. It doesn’t, as long as it doesn’t bother her that he is. What? WHAT? This guy’s a virgin? Oh, come on. No. There’s no way a hot 20-something guy of some social standing even in the 18th century wouldn’t have gotten laid at least once.
Claire makes her way back to the other men, grabs a bottle of something from Dougal, and stomps past them, presumably to go off and just deal with all this. It’s been a hell of a day.