TV REVIEW: Outlander, S1, E4: The Gathering

Another week – another episode of Outlander! We’re already halfway through the first half of season 1, which is split into two, eight episode chunks, and I’m hoping the story picks up the pace after tonight because these episodes flew by!

When we left Claire last week, she was building up the gumption to plan her escape from Leoch. Her opportunity presents itself as the Gathering of the MacKenzie clan is afoot with plenty of people attending to distract her watchdogs long enough for her to peace out to Craigh na Dun. But she doesn’t get very far. Her planning didn’t include bumping into a drunken, handsy Dougal nor a hay-covered Jamie. She puts the latter in a dangerous situation and her hopes of escape are dashed.

In the opening title scene, we’re shown a brooch with the saying: “Luceo Non Uro” – keep that in mind for later! At the moment, we’re greeted with the panting and yelling of a woman, in what sounds like fear. Two guards on top of watchtowers aim their weapons at the rustling grass but stand down when the yelling turns into laughter – that of one Claire Beauchamp Randall. She’s being chased by children from the castle in a game of cat and mouse – her guards none too pleased with having to move around so much.

We learn that she’s been all over the place – and with good reason. Claire’s been getting a lay of the land in an effort to plan her escape from Leoch during the Gathering, “losing” hair ribbons along the way – markers – so she can find her way out. She wants to continue on but gives in to their whining and they head back to the castle to join the festivities. As she wanders through, a feeling of happiness overcomes her even with her need to leave. Angus and Rupert continue to be some of the best comic relief on the show – and they don’t fail to amuse when trying to figure out who will chase the affections of a lass, with Claire’s help, of course!

After picking out a horse and the first of many interruptions for Claire, she is scared out of her wits by Geillis, who’s been snooping around her surgery like the nosy person she is. Geillis is driving me a little nutty with her constant attempts to catch Claire out in a lie or in something that doesn’t make sense. The witchy redhead notices Claire is pounding out some valerian root – an herb that helps one sleep – and enough of it to put a whole horse to sleep. Wonder who that’s for (as it’s not Claire!)?

In any case, Mrs. Beauchamp Randall tells Geillis to essentially get out and makes her way to the kitchens to steal a weapon but much to her annoyance, is now interrupted by Mrs. Fitz who insists she attend the evening’s oath taking. As Mrs. Fitz and Claire walk in, they stop to chat to Iona MacTavish – but those who’re in the know will realize that it’s Diana Gabaldon – the creator of the books! After a little bitchy exchange with Mrs. Fitz, the ladies move on to find a perch to watch the goings on below.

Murtagh explains everything to Claire (and us – unless you speak Scots Gaelic!) and Dougal is the first to offer his fealty and swear his oath to Clan MacKenzie. Claire confirms with Murtagh that once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all, so she makes her way out but is interrupted by Angus in a humorous exchange that ends up with him drinking Claire’s valerian-spiked port.

Getting rid of him, she goes to get her provisions but is then stopped again by Laoghaire, looking for a love potion to make Jamie fall in love with her. Poor lass – she’s in for a rude awakening as he’s already in love with someone and it’s not her! At this rate, Claire is never going to get out! Finally on her way, she encounters some drunken, rowdy men who accost her but is saved by an equally inebriated Dougal. He stops her from leaving and forcefully grabs her, trying to get her to kiss him in penalty for him saving her but she slaps him and then breaks a chair over his head before he can fully notice her bag of provisions. Who hasn’t wanted to see Dougal get beat by someone?

Her final interruption is Jamie – who’s hiding in some hay in the stables. Angry that her plan has gone to shite, she lashes out at him but softens when she realizes how she’s coming off. He offers to take her back to the castle and they are both caught and dragged back to the castle. What Old Alec warned her of earlier is now come to pass. Jamie should have stayed hidden during the Gathering, because now he’s going to have to swear an oath of allegiance to Colum. What this really means is that if Jamie is officially part of Clan MacKenzie, he’s in line to become Laird instead of Dougal – and that equals his death. If he doesn’t, he dies. Either way he’s a bit screwed.

Smartly, Jamie tells him that his oath is pledged to the name he bears (but doesn’t say what that name is) and instead offers his help and obedience, holding himself bound to Colum’s word as long as he feet rest on MacKenzie lands. Colum accepts the offer and the hunt is on.

The next day during the boar hunt, Claire comes along to help tend to any injuries but hearing more cries of pain, gets a bit lost in the woods. She’s saved by Dougal and finds her way to Geordie who was gored by the boar. Dougal cradles the wounded man and sees Claire’s look – he’s not going to make it and holds then man while he dies. This took a really long time (as it does I would imagine, in real life) but I don’t think it needed to be drawn out this much. After, Dougal takes out his anger on Jamie, who’s involved in a game of what looks like field hockey. The two duke it out in teh guise of a game, but we truly see how Dougal looks at Jamie – as a threat.

Later, Dougal informs Claire that he will be taking her with him when he goes out to collect the rents from the tenants who couldn’t attend the Gathering. She realizes that she’ll be stuck in 1743 for longer than she ever imagined but hasn’t given up on the idea of escaping to the stones and getting back to Frank.

What did you think? Did you find executive producer Ron D. Moore in his full highland garb? This episode was a bit slow – and more of a setup for the action to come in the next few episodes. I’ve been enjoying Moore’s behind-the-scenes podcasts, especially as I tend to re-watch episodes multiple times. If you’re like me, check out the current ones below:

BTS Episode 101 | BTS Episode 102 | BTS Episode 103 | BTS Episode 104

Rating: 4/5
Sharlene Mousfar

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