Ladies and gentlemen of the television-watching community at large, a moment of your time, if I may? Let us all raise a glass to Starz, Diana Gabaldon, and (may Gabaldon forgive me for the blasphemy I am about to commit) Ronald D. Moore for this absolutely brilliant episode of television. In the spirit of the times in which Claire Randall is being forced to reside, let us also raise a glass to men who do not favor wearing anything under their kilts and for those devil-may-care Jacobites both at home in the Highlands and abroad in France—you know who you are!
This week’s episode was chock full of splendid morsels. It’s like I’m writing about coffee or chocolate chip cookies, only it’s better because I’m writing about Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall rolling around in hay-covered stables. I do not mean this in a figurative way: What is there NOT to love about the show at this point? Four episodes in and the ball is well and truly rolling, and apparently some clansman are chasing that ball with hockey-like sticks.
Claire has decided that the muchly anticipated gathering of the clan will be an ideal opportunity to escape and make her way back to the stones. She’s been playing with the children of the castle in the woods (in a non–Tana French way) as a means of learning the lay of the forest. She’s even gotten all savvy and left bits of her clothing in the woods to mark likely escape routes. These bread crumbs are unnoticed by her guards, but not by the children. Thus it is that we get to experience the sheer delight of a young Scottish child saying the word “fichu.” If the internet is the kind and loving mistress I believe her to be, someone will GIF that for me.
Claire, as you may have assumed going in, does not, in fact, escape the castle. Though thwarted three times, it is only the final thwarting (accompanied by the prospect of learning that Jamie may be killed because of her) that stops her cold. The first would-be thwarter is none other than Claire’s frenemy Geillis Duncan. Now, if sayings I’ve made up just now have taught me anything, it’s this: Don’t trust too-smart gingers with high hairlines unless you can prove categorically that they are Elizabeth I. If they are not Elizabeth I, they are probably a witch. Also, Elizabeth I may have been a witch, but I do not have
enough any evidence to support that argument. Geillis notices that Claire is packing a big bag of provisions and believes Claire is planning to flee. Claire’s all, “Nuh-uh” which, while not a brilliant argument, serves to dissuade Geillis.
Thwarting the second was a bit grim. I wondered how it would be handled onscreen, and was interested to see that not much changed from the novel at all. While trying to escape unnoticed through the castle, Claire is attacked by some drunken clansmen and nearly raped. Then Dougal rescues her. Then Dougal tries to rape her. Then Claire bludgeons him with a chair. Take back the night, Claire.
The final thwarting was the second most important event of the episode. (The first was when Dougal witnessed Claire tend a man killed by a wild boar and decided that he needed her to join his party leaving Leoch. Duh.) Claire makes it to the stables but cannot mount her escape horse because she bumps into Jamie, who talks her into returning to the castle. While seeing that she gets back safely, he’s caught by some clansman and forced to swear an oath before Colum. This is problematic for two reasons: if he swears an oath, he’ll be the next in the line to be laird and people will try to kill him. If he DOESN’T, then everyone will kill him for being a jerk. Jamie solves all of this by basically going up to Colum and being all “We cool?” But in Gaelic. Collum says, “Yeah, we cool.” And not one Jamie Fraser died that day. Though he did join Dougal’s party leaving Leoch along with Claire. GEE. I WONDER WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.
What did you think of episode 4? Are things heating up fast enough?