Outlander: The Search

Outlander 2014Previously on Outlander: Jamie was forced to accompany the watch on what was supposed to be an ambush, only to find that the watch had been set up and now most of them are dead while he’s been taken prisoner.

‘Love forces a person to choose. You do things you never imagined you’d do before.’

Jenny and Claire start making preparations to head out and find Jamie. Ian insists on going along, but he’s too badly wounded. Also, he’s missing his peg leg. Both Jenny and Claire veto his accompanying them. They do allow him to draw them a rough map of where the men were attacked, though.

The ladies mount up, though Claire reminds Jenny that she just gave birth and shouldn’t be going anywhere. Never mind shouldn’t be—the woman just endured a very difficult delivery only three days ago. I’m not sure it would be physically possible for her to ride for any length of time. Unless she’s got Wolverine’s self-healing powers, she’d at the very least be in extreme agony the whole time. And yet, she hops up on the horse like it’s nothing, telling Claire that she at least knows the area and Claire needs someone with her who’s familiar with the terrain. CVO agrees that she’s right, going on and on until even Jenny snaps at her to gather herself so they can get a move on. I don’t think I was supposed to find that funny, but I did.

They gallop through the woods, tracking hoofprints and carrion birds until they find the right spot. A few bodies lie strewn about, and Jenny starts praying over them while Claire kind of just stands around modelling her knitwear and musing that the losers in war are left to just rot. Jenny finds some cart tracks in the road nearby, so they set off again.

Jenny stops after a while, telling Claire that she’s bursting. Claire gets off the horse to relieve herself, while Jenny relieves one of her engorged breasts. Claire watches in amazement, saying she had no idea it flowed like that. Really, Claire? How did you think it came out? They can’t stop for long, though, because if the redcoats get to Fort William before Jamie can be rescued, Randall may finish his horrible little project. Claire hopes to go over Randall’s head to Lord Thomas, the commander in the area (who was so eager to share his venison with her some episodes back) and bargain for Jamie’s release. ‘Sounds more like a prayer than a plan,’ Jenny says dismissively. Claire pouts that it’s better than no plan at all. They continue on their way.

They finally find some still-warm manure and hear men’s voices nearby, so Jenny pulls out a pair of pistols, handing one to Claire, and they go to spy on the redcoats. Claire spots Taran in the cart, but no sign of Jamie. Claire worries that Jamie might have been killed, possibly for mouthing off, but Jenny informs Claire that Jamie may do dumb things, but he’s not actually a moron and wouldn’t pick a fight with ten armed soldiers. Yeah, maybe just five or six.

One of the soldiers receives a message and mounts up to go deliver it to someone, so the ladies go and intercept him, tricking him off the horse and taking him prisoner. Jenny starts heating up his rifle’s ramming rod in a fire they’ve pulled together while Claire demands to know where Jamie is. Jenny shows him the red-hot rod and then starts searing the bottom of one of his feet. He starts screaming in pain and Claire winces. Jenny seems undisturbed which is, in itself, disturbing. I mean, Claire’s been through war and she’s upset by this. But this does get some results. The guy screams that he’s just a courier, so Claire goes to check his dispatches, opening one up despite his warning that she’ll hang for it. It says that Jamie escaped. Jenny notes that nobody was looking for him; that the soldiers were taking Taran to the sheriff’s court in Beauly (how does she know that? It doesn’t seem like the dispatch says.) The dispatch is calling for the garrison at the fort to search for Jamie, but if they never get the message, they won’t know to look. Jenny naturally tears it up, but then they wonder where Jamie will flee to. Jenny figures he’ll go north, further into the Highlands.

Claire glances over at the suffering soldier and her nurse mode kicks in and she goes to bandage his foot, but Jenny quietly tells her that they can’t leave this man alive. He knows they’re looking for Jamie, and if he’s left alive pretty soon a whole lot of crown retribution will be brought down on Lallybroch. ‘There’s no room for sentiment like that here,’ she says.

But it’s a moot point, because Murtaugh has come out of nowhere and killed the man for them. He wipes the blade clean and tells the ladies to hide their tracks better next time. Yeah, maybe next time don’t ride Fresians. They leave giant hoofprints.

Later, Claire gathers some firewood and Jenny, who knows Claire’s judging her big time, tells her that sometimes you have to do terrible things to protect the people you love. Claire tells Jenny she wasn’t judging her for wanting to kill the guy. In fact, if Murtaugh hadn’t turned up when he did, she’d have done the deed herself. At their little campsite, Claire teaches Jenny the fine art of building a campfire, telling her that her uncle taught her survival back when she was kid. She asks Jenny how she learned to track and Jenny answers that Jamie and Ian taught her when she was young. Murtaugh arrives with a rabbit for supper and confirms Jenny’s suspicion that Ian sent him.

The next morning, they pack up and Jenny hands over some cash, along with a knife for Claire. Jenny has to get back to Lallybroch, since she has an infant dependent on her for survival. Before she goes, Claire suggests she start growing potatoes, because they keep better than wheat, and there’s a famine coming in two years. Claire also tells her to sell any land that’s not productive right away. Jenny takes all this calmly, because Jamie told her that Claire might tell her mysterious things about the future. Can’t imagine why she was put on trial for witchcraft! The ladies embrace and Jenny says she’s happy to leave this in Claire’s hands, because she knows Claire will do whatever it takes to bring Jamie back. Jenny rides off. Claire rejoins Murtaugh and asks where they’re heading, aside from just ‘north’. ‘North, then west,’ he answers. Claire asks how they’re supposed to find Jamie, hiding out as he is, out of necessity. Murtaugh says Jamie’s going to find them. They have to tempt him out of hiding by letting him know they’re in the area, and the way they plan to do that is to have Claire travel around healing people and building up a reputation for herself.

They start village hopping and Claire begins treating all the illnesses and injuries around while Murtaugh questions the locals and entertaining them in the evening with a fairly poor sword dance that doesn’t go over too well, unless you consider laughter and booing a good thing. Claire, meanwhile, pretends to read palms, but because she apparently has zero imagination, she just keeps repeating the same palm reading the vicar’s housekeeper did for her, back (forward?) in 1946. Heavens, Claire, just tell these people what they want to hear. She manages to work in a question about Jamie into the reading, but the woman hasn’t seen anyone matching his description, and if she had, she’d surely have run after him. Claire tells the woman she has a long and happy life to look forward to. The lady seems disappointed, and Claire actually manages to read her properly and reassures her that her husband doesn’t. The lady’s happy with that.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]‘Words can’t travel by air,’ Murtaugh reminds her. ‘Not yet, anyway,’ she says. Oh, for GOD’S SAKE, CLAIRE! [/cryout-pullquote]Murtaugh finishes up and comes over to bitch at Claire for being a distraction. She reminds him that he was the one who wanted her to tell fortunes, because there are precious few fortune-telling healers accompanied by a dancing Fraser wandering around the area, so this will surely bring Jamie out. She impatiently asks if there’s any other way to get the word out. ‘Words can’t travel by air,’ he reminds her. ‘Not yet, anyway.’ Oh, for GOD’S SAKE, CLAIRE! Neither of them have turned up anyone who’s seen Jamie and Claire is all defeatest and says this won’t work. ‘Not with that attitude it won’t!’ he tells her.

They move on to some other village and Murtaugh tries his dance routine while Claire sits nearby like a wet dishrag and suggests he sing a song to ‘jazz up’ the dance a bit. He can barely manage the dance itself, do you really think he could sing and dance simultaneously? He, naturally, has no idea what the hell she means by ‘jazz up’ since jazz won’t be invented for another century and a half. So, to illustrate what she means, she—I swear to God—starts singing the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. Clearly, absolutely nothing will ever convince this woman that IT IS NOT 1946 RIGHT NOW. Insanely, Murtaugh—a guy who’s always seemed pretty traditional in every way—is like, ‘hey, cool tune,’ instead of the far more reasonable ‘what the hell is this craziness? It sounds about 160-some years ahead of its time . His only objection is that it’s not a Scottish song. Yes, that’s clearly the only thing that’s going to cause an issue here. She also needs a new look, he decides, and then dresses her up like a man. Uh, hang on, how is this supposed to notify Jamie that they’re in the area? A guy (or are they banking on everyone knowing she’s a woman?) singing strange songs at country fairs? Why would Jamie automatically assume that’s Claire? Claire apparently thinks the same thing, but Murtaugh says that an Englishman dressed as a man singing a dirty song is sure to get talked about. Ok, he’s probably right about that. Or she might get arrested again, which is far more likely.

He shoves her out onto stage and she almost immediately gets stage fright, but I guess the thought of finding Jamie helps give her some courage, so she starts singing some Scottish song in a boogie woogie style. The crowd’s appreciative, and that gives her more confidence.

She and Murtaugh take the show on the road, and Claire really seems to be getting into this. I feel like she’ll almost be disappointed to put it aside when they finally find Jamie. Murtaugh passes the hat and asks about news of a big redheaded lad while some guy with dark hair watches the show.

Afterwards, Claire asks how long they’ll be doing this. As long as it takes, Murtaugh tells her, adding that Jamie’s uncle used to sing this song, so Jamie’ll surely recognise it.

Montage! Murtaugh dances from village to village while Claire sings.

One day, they arrive at an…encampment, really, and find that dark haired guy who was watching the show earlier introducing a sword dancer (a pretty good one) and ‘the Sassenach’—a woman dressed as a man who comes out and sings Claire’s song. She learned that fast.

After the show, Claire and Murtaugh go to complain to the dark-haired guy who basically tells them they don’t have a copyright on the song, so it’s fair game. Claire tells them it’s a special song and the man agrees—it sure does bring in the crowds. He asks her why a respectable English lady of means is travelling the countryside, posing as an itinerant singer. He figures it’s either love or politics. Claire says it’s not politics. He’s pleased to hear it’s about love, because he’s a gypsy and gypsies love love. Claire tells him that she’s searching for her husband, and once she’s found him, she’ll never perform again and the guy can have the song. She offers him money—all that Jenny gave her, stupidly—to leave off performing until she’s found Jamie. He gives his word. Murtaugh warns her that she’s just wasted all her funds, but Claire is clinging to the hope that the guy will be true to his word. Murtaugh knows better and says that, with two performers singing the song, Jamie won’t know which one to come to. Maybe the one that actually has an Englishwoman performing it? And a lousy dancer? Or why don’t you guys just trail the gypsies until Jamie shows up? He tells her to go home to Lallybroch and he’ll track the gypsies. Claire refuses, and since she’s technically Murtaugh’s superior, he has to go along with that. And for some reason they do not follow the gypsies and let them do the performing while Claire and Murtaugh just wait for news. Instead they just split the performances, leading to the very confusion Murtaugh was just worrying about. What is wrong with these two?

More performing and travelling. Still no news. How long are they going to do this? They reach the coast and make camp for the night. Claire can’t sleep. Murtaugh, for some reason, blames her for this whole situation and she points out that this was his idea to begin with. He says this was a fine plan until she tried to deal with the gypsies. Claire says it totally wasn’t fine before that, but he couldn’t possibly understand because he’s never lost anyone he loved. Now, how do you know that, madam? That’s a pretty shitty assumption to make. And, as is always the case in matters like these, she’s wrong. He did love someone he met at a MacKenzie gathering years ago. But she had another suitor. So, to prove himself worthy, Murtaugh set out to kill a boar during the hunt using nothing but a dagger. Damn, that’s pretty badass. He got the tusks as a reward and had them made into bracelets and gave them to the lass as a wedding gift. And now those are yours, Claire! She retrieves them from her bag and shows them to him. I’m sure he’ll be pleased to know these haven’t really become beloved heirlooms. He says that Jamie’s like a son to him. Claire weeps, apologises, and hugs him.

The next morning, she ditches the drag and goes back to her skirts and corsets, asking Murtaugh where they should go next. He suggests going back to the beginning and starting again. But first they need to tend to the horses. Unfortunately, Claire gave away most of their money, so that’ll make things a bit more challenging.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]The gypsy straight-up tells her he went back to singing the song, because he’s an asshole and also adhering pretty strongly to stereotype.[/cryout-pullquote]She goes back to lousy fortunetelling and hey! Guess who shows up? It’s the gypsy—Ward. He straight-up tells her he went back to singing the song, because he’s an asshole and also adhering pretty strongly to stereotype. Claire gives him quite a bit of (well-deserved) attitude, but he’s come with news: during a performance, the lass singing the song received a message. Claire asks for it and Ward tells her that he gives nothing for free. She’s ALREADY PAID YOU. God, what a dick. Claire refuses to give him another cent and tells him to get lost before Murtaugh relieves him of his teeth. Ward smiles and says they’re to go to Glen Rowan Cross ASAP. Murtaugh confirms that Jamie knows the place, so it could be genuine. She thanks Ward and she and Murtaugh hit the road.

They reach the spot—which isn’t a cross but seems to be some sort of cave system—and find Dougal, not Jamie. He leads her further into the caves, which he’s using as a storage space for smuggled goods. He tells her that he has news of Jamie: he’s alive, but was recaptured while trying to reach Claire and is now in Wentworth Prison, condemned to hang the day after tomorrow. Dougal asks Murtaugh for some time alone with Claire, and she tells Murtaugh it’ll be fine, so he backs away. Dougal draws her aside and basically tells her that Jamie’s lost to them now, and that’s sad, but she has to let him go and move on and find someone else to protect her. Dougal offers himself up as both protector and husband, which disgusts her, considering Jamie’s not even dead yet. Also, what about Geillis? Dead now, probably, but still, how can he just jump straight from her to her buddy, Claire? Pretty gross, really. He asks not to talk about Geillis right now, because they’re talking about Claire, and it won’t be long before Randall comes knocking on the door at Lallybroch, looking for her, and there’s not a thing anyone can do about that. He says that the only way to keep her and Lallybroch safe is to come under Dougal’s protection. She suddenly figures out that what he really wants is control of Lallybroch, and that’s why he kept Jamie away from there for years, feeding him lies about his sister bearing Randall’s child. Dougal pretty much admits that it’s all true, but it doesn’t change her position. He goes the ‘Jamie would probably want it this way’ route by saying that, if this were the only way to keep her out of Randall’s hands, Jamie would surely want that most of all. Claire backs away and asks how many men he has with him. Ten, he tells her, adding that there’s no way they can take Wentworth with such a small force. She reminds him that Jamie rescued her from Fort William with a tiny force. She refuses to give up on Jamie until she has no other choice, but if Jamie does die, she’ll marry Dougal. He refuses to force the men to go to their deaths, so it’ll have to be a volunteer force. They shake on their deal.

The men aren’t exactly lining up to join this expedition. Claire tells them all that Jamie would do the same for them, because they’re all family. Still no takers. For a while, but then Willie speaks up and says that he’ll go, because Jamie’s always protected him. And now that he’s spoken up, Rupert and Angus can’t exactly just sit around, so they agree too.

They all ride towards Wentworth prison and stop on a hill nearby so they can look at the place dramatically for a while.

This seemed like a really stupid episode to me. We spent almost the entire hour on a plan that was patently absurd and involved Claire inventing a whole new musical style more than a century early and everyone just being perfectly cool with that. It’s like the whole thing was just one long, bad talent show punctuated by Claire doing crazy stupid things. I mean, really, does this woman have no capacity to form long-term memories or something? Because you’d think that after having come this close to being burned at the stake for acting too outrageously for the locals to handle, you’d at least attempt to tone it down slightly. But no, not Claire! The problem is always someone else, not her! She never has to modify her behaviour! I have to be honest, there are things to like about her character, but more often than not I find her exasperating as hell. It’s like she has no sense of self-preservation, which I find doubtful in someone who was raised to survive and has been through war. I don’t know, this just really didn’t work for me even the teensiest bit. Hoping for better things from the next two episodes.


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