I think it’s safe to say that in this second half of the first season, Outlander has hit its stride. For this viewer/reader this episode has everything you could want: sex, intrigue, sword fights, duels, anger, murder, betrayal, lust, longing, and forgiveness. Pretty much everything in a storyteller’s bag of tricks. Warning: this review is full of spoilers, so proceed at your own risk if you haven’t watched this episode yet.
In the opening scene Jamie gets his first hint—if he were paying attention—that Claire possesses knowledge that she cannot account for, when she tells him damning information about the Duke of Sandringham. He simply accepts her “trust me, but I can’t tell you how I know,” and doesn’t question her. Of course the knowledge helps Jamie prepare to ask for the Duke’s help in getting Randall’s charges against him dropped. But, there is a quid pro quo that the Duke asks for—one that will get Jamie in trouble with his uncle, Colum.
Meanwhile, we learn a lot more about Geillis Duncan in this episode. First, she is pregnant with Dougal MacKenzie’s baby. Second, she can murder a husband without batting an eye. Third, Jamie is smart enough to know that Claire should stay away from Geillis, that she’s dangerous, but Claire is lured to Geillis’ side by a junior high type prank. Lotte Verbeek is doing a wonderful job bringing the evil but fascinating Geillis to life. I look forward to watching her in coming episodes—and seasons.
But this episode belongs to Simon Callow who was nothing less than fabulous as the Duke of Sandringham! I love Callow in everything I’ve ever seen in him, so I knew he would do a great job as the Duke, but he truly brought the character to life. He was perfect. And so much fun to watch.
Simon Callow and his Duke have to share the honors in this episode with Graham McTavish and his Dougal, however. The scene where Dougal is reacting to the news that his wife—who has been sequestered away at their home far from Leoch—has died was stunning. “She deserved better than me.” I think I was actually mesmerized as he came apart. It was so very physical and heartwrenching. Bravo Mr. McTavish!
Shortly after being so utterly heartbroken, he smiles a wry little smile at Geillis as he watches her husband die on the floor of the great hall in Castle Leoch during a celebration for the Duke. Later, Colum calls him on it and Dougal proclaims his love for Geillis, which gets him banished when Colum sends him to his own home. Angry at Jamie for his part in a duel against an enemy clan, Colum sends him along with Dougal. Claire’s and Jamie’s parting was sweet and sad as once again their love is becoming more and more evident. And of course that parting opens the way for…
Geillis and Claire getting arrested for witchcraft. If only Claire had listened to Jamie and stayed away. If only Laoghaire hadn’t hated Claire so much that she tricked her into rushing to Geillis. If only… That arrest sets up the next episode or two and paves the way for much of what is to come.
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I have nothing to rant about. I learned today that I love watching a good sword fight—even ones where there is no opponent. (Dougal) I also know that there will be plenty of opportunities for more sword fighting scenes in this series.
The next episode promises to be very revealing. It’s one of those parts of the book that I loved and hated in equal measures. I’m excited to see it!