Previously on Outlander: Claire’s plan to escape during the clan gathering didn’t work out, but her cool headedness when dealing with a man’s mortal wound made Dougal choose to bring her along on a rent-gathering road trip.
Claire looks out on a loch and starts reciting Absence, Hear Thou my Protestation by John Donne. An older man joins her and adds his voice to the recitation. The other boys are wrestling and kind of hazing one of the younger men who’s joining the group for the first time. Claire introduces us to the poetry lover: Ned Gowan, a lawyer who seems to have a perpetual tickly throat. He’s along to help Dougal with the records and receipts, since he’s the only man Dougal will trust with the money. He shows Claire the bag for rents and tells her the various forms the rent can take: money, livestock, cabbages. He only refuses to take live pigs. Claire’s concerned about his cough and he explains that he has allergies, essentially. Claire offers to help him out and fills a pipe with thorn apple (jimsonweed), which CVO tells us relieves the symptoms of asthma. He smokes away and starts to feel better.
They get back on the road and the men start singing a dirty song. Claire rides with Ned and asks what made him take up a post in such a remote place. He tells her he studied in Edinburgh and had a little practice there, but he grew restless, so he headed up to the Highlands and appealed to Colum’s father, and he’s been here ever since.
CVO unnecessarily reminds us that she’s hoping to get back to the stones and go back to her own time. In case we’d forgotten since the last episode.
They make camp and start telling some raunchy jokes. One of Claire’s bodyguards hands her a roast rabbit and she VOs that she wasn’t offended by the jokes or put off by her dinner, but annoyed that they were using Gaelic to exclude her. Jamie comes over and hands her a bannock and tells her not to worry about what they’re saying. She says that the other hate her and he scoffs and says they just don’t trust her. She asks if he thinks she’s a spy. He does not, but he thinks she’s hiding things and wants to run. She sets her uneaten dinner aside and excuses herself.
The next day, they arrive at a village and begin collecting rents. Ned hands out receipts while Dougal greets some of the guys by name, playfully roughhouses with some of them, and shows that he knows quite a lot about their personal lives. Claire watches as livestock and sacks of grain are organised and loaded up. That rule against taking pigs clearly hasn’t stuck.
Claire gets bored and wanders off, attracted by the sound of women singing inside one of the thatched buildings. One of the women, Donalda, finds her and says they’re waulking wool and the song helps them out with it. Donalda takes her to the other women and introduces Claire, explaining that she’s going to be helping them. A piece of wool is spread over a large table and hot urine slopped over it, to help set the dye. The women all grab a handful and start beating the wool back and forth, singing. Claire watches for a bit, smiling, and then grabs hold and joins in, both on the song (in Gaelic) and the waulking.
Afterwards, she accepts a cup of something pretty pungent to drink. A baby cries and Donalda explains that the baby’s hungry, which they can’t do a whole lot about, since they had to give away their goat to the laird that morning. Claire observes that doesn’t seem fair. One other woman asks where they’re going next. Claire doesn’t know, but she takes the opportunity to ask about the standing stones. The others say that’s where the fairies are supposed to live. They tell her it’s about three days’ journey out there. It’s time to get back to work, and they need more pee, so Claire is encouraged to make a…donation. As she gets started, the door bursts open and Rupert bursts in, startling the baby and Claire. He’s a bit horrified to find her mid-stream, and she swiftly stands and lowers her skirt, explaining that she’s just helping out the locals. He insists they leave now and roughly bundles her out of there. Apparently he’s gotten into trouble for letting her wander off. He threatens to tie her to the wagon and manhandles her back to the others. She spots Donalda’s goat and goes to return it, getting into a tug-of-war over the animal with Rupert. Dougal comes along and scolds Rupert again before telling Claire the goat’s payment for rent and will be going with them. The locals are staring, so one of the men says that the ‘Sassenach’ is drunk. The others laugh, but the local blacksmith asks, in a clear English accent, if Claire’s ok. He’s told to piss off by the other men. He stands his ground, as Jamie approaches with a sword and a few of the other men make subtle, silent threats. The man has no choice but to back down. Can’t be easy for him, living in a small village like this. He goes back into his shop and puts on a soldier’s uniform. Oooooooh.
That night, the men of the village and Dougal’s men celebrate the good harvest with alcohol, naturally. Claire kind of hovers in the back, not drinking. Dougal stops joking with the guys and begins speaking in Gaelic. During his speech, he tears open Jamie’s shirt and shows off his scars, speaking angrily while Jamie just sits there, apparently having expected this. Everyone is horrified by the sight and they start stepping forward to give more money. Afterwards, Ned and Dougal weigh up the purse and Dougal comments that it’ll do. Apparently the Jamie’s Horrifying Wounds Show is just getting started, and Jamie’s not terribly pleased about it. Dougal tosses Claire the shirt and tells her to mend it. She wads it up, throws it back, and tells him to do it himself. He shrugs that Jamie can just wear rags, then, so Claire goes to pick it up, but Jamie snatches it away and says he’ll mend his own shirt.
The following day, Ned offers Claire some black pudding for breakfast and she asks how Colum will feel about Dougal using Jamie to steal money from these people to line his own pockets. He calls her a canny lass and she shrugs that it doesn’t take a genius to suss out what’s going on. She turns and sees Dougal staring at her creepily and CVO says it felt almost like he was daring her to run. She could feel his trust slipping away.
They get back on the road and she keeps watching Dougal use Jamie again and again, while she admits she feels helpless and as trapped as she did back at the castle. She wonders if she has to reconcile herself to living amongst strangers 200 years in the past.
They arrive at one village and find a family being pillaged, basically, by the people they’ve paid not to steal the family’s cattle. Word in the village has it the husband here is a British sympathiser, so their house is being burned down. Damn, gossip is seriously damaging around here. Dougal rides over and has a chat, taking two geese. Claire’s disgusted.
She notices that Jamie’s missing and one of the other men, Angus, says that these pillagers would turn him in in a second, so he’s making himself scarce.
Everyone stops for food and Angus talks about some woman he slept with recently. He offers Claire one of the geese, which has been roasted, but she snippily refuses to eat stolen food or eat with thieves. He pulls a knife on her and growls that he won’t be judged by an English whore. Jamie tells him to chill out and Angus lets Claire go. She walks off in a snit. After a little while, Jamie comes after her and asks what her problem is. She says that where she comes from, people don’t behave like this. He warns her not to judge things she doesn’t understand. Seriously, Claire. You need to keep your head down, but you really suck at that.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Claire, you were just complaining a little while ago that this man’s trust is slipping away and you’re now doing everything you can to alienate him. SHUT UP![/cryout-pullquote]At the next village they visit, everyone seems a lot less jovial than the first place. No jokes and joshing with Dougal here. One man shows up with nothing to give and explains that the redcoats came through two days ago and took everything. He can’t even feed his family. Dougal pats him on the shoulder, then goes and fetches a sack of something, handing it over to the man. He then offers everyone something to eat, but Claire calls him out on having ulterior motives and only doing this so he can gather more that night for himself. Jesus, Claire, do you want to get to the standings stones or not? You were just complaining a little while ago that this man’s trust is slipping away and you’re now doing everything you can to alienate him. SHUT UP! Dougal starts advancing no her threateningly and Ned steps in, quickly saying that the English lass is a smart one, and it’s a good thing they’re not doing this in Oxfordshire. Dougal asks what she’s accusing him of and she says that a penny goes to the laird, and a pound to himself. Sigh. He says this is clan business, not hers. Ned gives her an ‘I told you so’ eyebrow raise.
That night, the Jamie Show gets underway. As Jamie’s back is revealed, the man who couldn’t pay earlier comments to Claire that he’d sooner die than let a ‘whey faced Sassenach’ use him in that manner. Because you usually have a choice. During Dougal’s speech, a phrase catches her ear: Long live the Stuart.
Over in 1946, Frank and the reverend talk about the second Jacobite rising in 1745. The Rev explains to Claire (and those of us who can’t be bothered to visit Wikipedia) that Bonnie Prince Charlie was gathering Jacobite supporters for a rebellion. The Jacobites wanted to restore a Catholic king (wrong. They wanted to restore a Scottish Stuart king. Lots of Jacobites, especially in Scotland, were Protestants.) and Charles Stuart used the Highlanders to raise money for the endeavour, which as we all know was a lost cause.
In 1743, Claire finally realises that this money gathering isn’t criminal but political. He was trying to stir up rage against the British and raise money for an army.
Later, she overhears Jamie arguing with Dougal, refusing to be part of this anymore, but Dougal tells him he’d better if he wants their proper king back where he belongs. Dougal tells Jamie that he’d have a lot to gain from a restoration. The price would come off his head, for one thing. Jamie again tries to refuse to be part of this anymore, but Dougal tells him he has no choice. Jamie takes out his rage on a nearby, obliging tree, which seems like a great way to break your fingers fast. Claire comes wandering over and asks if Dougal’s going to continue using him. Jamie says he will, and he’ll go along with it, because Dougal’s his uncle and a man has to choose what’s worth fighting for. Personal pride and dignity aren’t worth it, I guess. He suggests they get some sleep. Before she goes, she tells him to try not to hit any more trees. He promises the trees are safe.
In the morning, they all pack up and Claire VOs that she sees them now as rebels, not criminals, and she wishes she could warn them of the disaster to come. But how could she pop their bubble like that? Not to mention, how would she explain that she knows the future? She doesn’t seem to consider that last bit.
As they approach the next village, they come upon some men who’ve been crucified, with T’s carved into their chests. Angus guesses they’ve been out here more than a week and Claire VOs that she knows this is the work of redcoats. Dougal orders them cut down and they give the men a proper burial. That night, Dougal has a little extra ammunition for his speech. The people of the village give willingly.
Claire lies awake in bed that night in the inn and hears some noises outside. She grabs a candlestick, holding it up as a weapon, and goes to investigate. She opens the door and trips right over Jamie, who’s come up to sleep in front of her door in case some of the drunk men wandered upstairs in search of…companionship. Claire says that, after the events of that day, she doubts any of them are feeling kindly towards an Englishwoman. Uh, that’s kind of the point there, Claire. He’s not worried they’re going to come up here and recite Donne with you, ye ken? She smiles and apologises for stepping on him. She invites him into the room to sleep, where it’s warmer. He’s astonished by the very idea, telling her that her reputation would be ruined. She’s amused, reminding him that he’s slept under the stars with her. He tells her that’s totally different. She asks that he at least accept the blanket off her bed. He’s fine with that. She hands it over and their hands touch and there’s A MOMENT. He promises he’ll be right there all night. I’ll bet.
She comes down for breakfast and says good morning to Jamie, who’s stuffing his face and preparing to go out and care for the horses. The other men are laughing about something. Claire goes and joins Ned. Some men at a nearby table check out Claire and start talking Gaelic. Claire asks Ned why he let her think they were stealing. He asks what makes her think otherwise and she says she knows what ‘long live the Stuart’ means. He warns her that she’d better not let anyone else know what she knows. She asks what he’d think if she told him the odds are stacked against this rebellion, and they’re raising money for a losing war.
The men continue chattering in Gaelic between their table and the table of Dougal’s men. Claire continues, telling Ned that their side is going to lose. He says that’s just her opinion. She stupidly and firmly says that this is a fact, that history will never record another Stuart king, but there’ll be plenty of Highlander dead in those history books.
Whatever that one table was saying finally pisses off Dougal’s men enough that they start a brawl. ‘Here we go,’ Claire sighs. Heh. She edges out of the way while men start busting furniture and plates over each others’ heads and the bagpipe on the soundtrack goes totally nuts. Dougal joins the fray.
Afterwards, Claire tends all their wounds, scolding them for fighting. One of the men tells her that they were defending her honour, because one of the other guys called her a whore. Even Angus wasn’t going to stand for that. Rupert explains that she’s a guest of the MacKenzie, so they can insult her, but nobody else can. Glad we got that rule established.
As they prepare to mount up, Angus is back to bragging about his conquests, and Claire says she believes that his left hand gets jealous of his right, and that’s about all she believes about him. He glares at her for a second, and then bursts out laughing, saying he never heard a woman make a joke. Man, Angus, that’s just sad. Someone mentions that they’ll soon cross Culloden Moor, the future site of the devastating battle that basically ended the Rebellion of ’45. In 1946 she visited the place with Frank, who showed her how flat it was and how the Highlanders charged right into a lot of musket fire, cannons, and mortars, armed with only broadswords. The whole battle took less than an hour and the Jacobites lost about 2000 men. In the years following, the estates of the clans that supported the rebellion were plundered and sold, the wearing of tartan and carrying of swords was banned, along with the Gaelic language. The battle essentially ended the Highlander way of life. 1946 Claire checks out a stone marked ‘Clan MacKenzie.’ 1743 Claire looks at the men around her and wonders how many of them were going to die on that awful battlefield in just three years.
As they make camp, Angus helps Claire undo her bedroll. Ned passes her by with barely a glance and goes to sit with Dougal. Claire tells them she’s going to the river to wash. Dougal just shrugs. Claire actually does go to the river to wash, and while she’s there, Dougal comes over and asks who she is, noting that she wants to be seen as a lady from Oxfordshire, but she’s clearly a woman of strong political opinions. He says that if she tells the redcoats anything of what she’s seen and all these men will be bound to crosses like those poor bastards from earlier. She again insists she’s not a spy and he says maybe she isn’t, but she’s sowing the seeds of doubt in their midst and undermining the cause. She tells him she’s just trying to deliver a warning and save his life.
Before he can go on, a crew of redcoats comes riding up to them, led by the blacksmith from that village. Dougal’s hand goes to his sword, but he realises he’s outnumbered. The blacksmith/officer, Lieutenant Foster, asks again if she’s all right. Dougal grandly introduces himself and says she’s fine. Foster asks Claire if she’s there by her own choice and Claire just kind of stands there, weighing her options.