TV REVIEW: Outlander, S1, E3: The Way Out

I don’t know about you all, but I am throughly enjoying Outlander thus far!  The book-to-screen interpretation has been phenomenal and we’re still only just at the beginning of Claire’s story. As Claire and the inhabitants of Castle Leoch get used to her presence there, she decides her medical skills to save a sick child will endear her to the MacKenzies and aid in her release – but is it all for nothing? Maybe not – a folk story sung during the evening’s entertainment gives Claire hope for her freedom.

There’s a change to witness in the opening scene of this week’s episode – Claire isn’t giving us the play-by-play (just yet anyway)! It’s only just beginning to niggle at me a bit so I’m glad we had a bit of respite from it right at the get go. That being said, what we do get to see (not just hear) trains whistling and people hustling about the station as Claire and Frank in military dress, walk alongside a train ready to depart, bags in hand.

We learn that Frank tried to use his connections to change his wife’s orders to her displeasure. He also says that her stubborness and unshakable mind will be the bain of a man’s existence, should he try to sway her from her goal. Hurrah for foreshadowing! The  horn blows it’s the final boarding call – and just when you think it might be Frank boarding – in a role-reversal, it’s Claire who’s leaving instead.

I’m continuing to enjoy the glimpses we get of Frank and how Ron Moore and team are trying to impart on us why we should care the Claire misses him so much. “Promise that you will return to me.” are the last words Frank speaks to his wife as Claire fades into the fog – little did they know at the time. With a splash, we flash forward (or back?) to 1743.

It’s Claire’s version of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or as most people call it – a really frakking cold shower! Cursing, Claire spits out that she can wash and dress herself, thank you very much! The sharpness of her tone flies right over Mrs. Fitz, who’s only happy to help. No women’s lib here quite yet as the older woman continues her commentary about Claire’s beautifully unmarked skin and that she’ll be a catch for her next husband.

As in the last week’s episode, the word “husband” brings Claire’s already sour mood down even further and before you know it, she says: “My husband…he’s not dead.” D’oh! It all goes downhill from there and as the truth spills out, Mrs. Fitz, starts to  crab walk towards the door. Not understanding the reaction (the crack in Catriona Balfe’s voice here is perfect), she reaches for Mrs. Fitz only to be called a demon witch and slapped.

Which is what’s just happened to us – a virtual ice bucket if you will because it’s all in Claire’s head! What the real Mrs. Fitz was talking about is the Gathering – where all the MacKenzie men come to pledge their oath to the Laird. And here’s where Claire gets her first bright idea – if she does well in her doctoring of the people, she’ll get on the MacKenzie brothers’ good side and they’ll let her go! Right?

Still being followed by Dougal’s men, Angus and Rupert, Claire gets to work trying figure out how to adapt her 20th century medical skills to 18th century ingredients and procedures. We get another “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” when she shakes some bugs out on her hand (called something different of course because who would do that on purpose? Ew.). Getting bored of watching Claire – her watchdog leaves to drink in the kitchens. A good sign perhaps?

While there Colum’s chambermaid breaks some pottery and is sent home. We find out that her son passed away the night before – demon possession. “Say what?” is the look on Claire’s face as everyone else crosses themselves. An old monastery aka The Black Kirk is where the boy was last and religious superstition is all these people know – so why would they look for another reason for why the boy perished?

Claire is called to Colum’s chambers – where he’s being fitted for a new coat. But the tailor assumes a familiarity that he shouldn’t have – he believes that the Laird wants to hide his “unique” deformity – much to his detriment. You know what they say about assuming. After the tailor scurries away, Colum then requests that Claire massage his legs, as the previous physician did, to ease his pain. But instead of his legs – Claire requests to massage his lower back instead. Presented with Colum’s backside, she gets to work (groans of relief emanate from Colum – of which kind is unknown) and is invited to that evening’s entertainment as his guest.

In the hall, Dougal insults Claire once more and she goes to find a spot – away from him and next to…Laoghaire. Not sure which is worse! Taking the role of an older sister/confidante, she chats up the blonde who’s eye is on a certain red-headed highlander. But she knows what we know, that it’s not her Jamie’s fancying. As neither Claire nor the audience understand the lyrics, she asks Laoghaire a question to try and match-make but Jamie answers before the young girl can open her mouth. When he offhandedly insults the girl (his last memory of her as a “snot-nosed bairn”), Claire elbows him, which prompts Jamie use the excuse of an itchy bandage to scurry them away to the surgery. 

Jamie and Claire get their flirt on (she’s aided by a few glasses of wine) as they discuss his scarred back and how Claire can see past his injuries to the man beneath. Their trust of each other deepens and she stops him from leaving to check how his wound is healing. Mmmm hmm. So that’s what they call it now, eh? Stripping off his neck tie and baring his neck, Jamie gives Claire a look of promise and as she coyly catches his eye it says: more clothes will come off soon! Teases, the two of them!

The next day, rushing about (and tiring out her Scottish shadow), Claire meets Geillis to pick herbs and plants. She finds out that Father Bain failed Lindsey MacNeil but Thomas Baxter, the young messenger from earlier and Mrs. Fitz’s nephew, is now ill and he is determined to perform an exorcism on the boy. In disbelief, Claire slips bits and pieces of information as she asks questions about the process, piquing Geillis’ curiosity.

It’s like watching a cat toying with a mouse; the mysterious Mrs. Duncan seems to know about Claire’s true origins and is poking around to confirm her suspicions. She warns Claire not to go near the boy – but we know that Claire can’t ignore someone that she thinks she can help.  Visiting the Baxter household with her “gift from God”, she tries to convince the family to untie him so she can figure out his ailment but just as they’re about to give in, Father Bain appears and shoves her away.

Back at the kitchens and waiting for her guard, she spies Jamie and Laoghaire stumble in, kissing. And Jamie catches her eye before continuing on. What the what, Jamie? You idiot! At dinner, Claire teases Jamie and likens the tryst to caring for horses. Chasing him off, she is warned that he’d be beat if the powers that be found out. He implies that he doesn’t need a lassie for a bride but a woman. That woman should be her! 

Claire admits she’s jealous, not of Laoghaire – but of the intimacy that she misses having with Frank. Dougal interrupts her crying to invite her to Geillis’ the next day to refill her stores before the Gathering. Beware of the green-eyed (or blue in this case) monster – in the form of Mrs. Duncan, Claire! The red-headed woman continues to imply that Claire isn’t from this time, asking things we know our Sassenach doesn’t want to answer. Lotte Verbeek is amazing – the manic gleam in her eyes and the lilting tone she lends to Geillis really make you feel almost as uncomfortable as Claire with her questions. Both women are determined in their own agendas and time will tell on who breaks first.

A disturbance outside interrupts their conversation – a boy has been caught stealing and Mr. Duncan is to dispense a judgement. But he’s got a “riling gut” and doesn’t want to listen to any reason from a stranger. But his wife, however, is a different story. She uses his love for her and her powers of persuasion to lessen the boy’s sentence. After he leaves, Geillis confirms that Arthur is oblivious to guile – and it’s a sign to us and Claire – watch your back with this one. A gross moment when the young boy’s ear getting nailed to a post is shown and then Geillis suggests they go downstairs for some port to “share each other’s secrets.” How about not? Jamie saves her from answering any more questions but they can’t leave without helping the “post” boy out.

Investigating the Black Kirk, we learn that Jamie is an educated man for the time and place. He had a tutor that taught him all sorts of languages and theories – but he’s still superstitious regardless. When asked what he did there as a young boy, Jamie drops a seemingly insignificant detail about eating wood garlic. But what’s growing there isn’t that – it’s Lily of the Valley and it’s poisonous when ingested. I’m learning all sorts of things about plants and herbs on this show! Hopeful that she can save the Baxter boy, she rushes to the home to save him.

This time however, Claire convinces Mrs. Fitz to let her help but Father Bain is male chauvinist jerk – he won’t be “ordered about by a woman.” Believing her skills to be blasphemous – he refuses to let her pass. Oh does that rile Claire and Mrs. Fitz as they fight back and shove him away. She pours a decoction of Belladonna down the boys throat and it works – a miracle by 18th Century standards. In disbelief, the priest leaves and threatens Claire before slamming the door. What a douchebag!

On the final night of singing, Claire is dejected – because she’s so good at what she does, a “miracle worker”, the MacKenzie’s have even less of a reason to let her go. She only goes to the performance to get drunk and is dragged over to a bench by Jamie, who explains the folk song being sung. A light and a smile appear on Claire’s face – the man is singing about her story – and it ends with the woman going back to her own time and husband. She resolves to escape – with or without help.

I have a bad feeling about that! While Claire is beginning to get used to being at the castle and forming relationships with the people there, she still clings to the hope of getting back home. One can’t blame her for it though – and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next week as she formulates her plans. Also really enjoyed seeing more of Jamie and Claire deepening their connection; Balfe and Heughan definitely have chemistry and that’s just by looks alone! May need a fan (or just a full on A/C) on me for the next few episodes when things heat up between the two. Wanted to see a bit more of them though – not enough screentime!

What did you think? I’ve been enjoying Ron D. Moore’s behind-the-scenes podcasts, especially as I tend to re-watch episodes multiple times. If you’re like me, check out the first two below and check back for the episode 3 link:

  • BTS Episode 101: Link
  • BTS Episode 102: Link
  • BTS Episode 103: Link

Rating: 4/5
Sharlene Mousfar

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