Welcome back! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday last week and found some way to make it meaningful.
As a reminder of where the last episode ended…
… in this episode Jamie basically tells her, “Hey, you’re gonna die trying.”
Ready to revisit The Gathering?
Warning: Contains spoilers from all seasons of Outlander.
Once Upon A Time…
Episode 104 begins with a very Blair Witch-y feel as we follow Claire through the forest, unsure of from whom or what she is running.
There’s a bit of foreshadowing here as we will revisit a similar sequence later in the episode during the boar hunt…
… giving the illusion in both scenes of Claire being hunted. It’s a prominent theme in this episode— Claire, the boar, and Jamie all take turns being pursued.
But, thankfully, here it’s only adorable wee Hamish and his friends playing with Claire. But, as her voiceover informs us, the game provides an opportunity for her to learn the perimeter of the castle and leave some figurative breadcrumbs behind to facilitate her escape later:
Very Hänsel and Gretel and, actually, this whole episode has a very fairy tale vibe about it. From a dark wood and a trail of “breadcrumbs”, to a witch with an apple…
…to a hooded girl with a basket of food venturing into the woods…
…there is a whole bunch of folk lore imagery at work here. And, as with fairy tales, the forest is a place of mystery and danger in this episode.
Less mysterious are these two knuckleheads. Claire is working to distract Angus and Rupert so she can skip out on them later. Here they’re drawing sticks to see who gets to romance this saucy minx stirring the kettle and working the hell out of her off-the-shoulder plaid:
Meow. That’s also pretty much how I look after one-too-many pints at the Ren Faire.
Angus wins (but later loses her to Rupert anyway) and off Claire goes to the stable— ostensibly to get a horse for the hunt tomorrow but really to secure a getaway steed.
“Oh, um, is Jamie not, um, here to help me pick a horse???”
Jamie is laying low for reasons we will discover later, and Claire seems a bit disappointed not to run into him. Here I am reminded of the old Scottish proverb: Save a horse, ride a Fraser. I think that’s how it goes?
Anyway, Old Alec gives her Brimstone, a gentle mare who he warns will turn for home the first chance she gets…just like her rider, but in this case “home” is via Craigh na Dun.
Surprise! Geillis stops by later to deliver some port wine and also offer some uplifting and sparkling conversation topics such as, “perhaps you’re with illegitimate child,” “let’s talk about your dead husband,” and (my favorite), “maybe you’re barren.”
As I’ve said before, I’m convinced Geillis knows Claire is a time-traveler all along. She’s no dummy and she knows what’s up here— she basically warns Claire to not try anything stupid. Geillis, for all her faults, seems to have a much better handle on this century than Claire; she recognizes how different (and dangerous) the consequences could be from an escape attempt.
This is also the episode where we learn that Claire basically sucks at being covert. After she says goodbye to Geillis she’s snagged by Mrs. Fitz, who promptly declares Claire in need of a makeover before the big shindig.
And here’s Herself, Diana Gabaldon, making her adorable cameo. Her character, Iona, and Mrs. Fitz throw some shade at one another before everyone settles onto the balcony to watch the vow taking.
I’ve decided no one is better at looking unimpressed than Duncan Lacroix.
Colum gives a rousing pep talk to Clan MacKenzie (go team!) and Dougal swears his allegiance to Colum. Let’s just say we’re glad Dougal is comfortable with the idea of dying by his own dirk.
All these extras probably took forever to costume, so let’s applaud with them! Yay for Terry Dresbach!
“Sedative…is that Spanish?”
Claire smugly and secretly slips Angus some port wine laced with valerian root, and Angus thinks Claire is maybe not so bad after all.
With Rupert preoccupied and Angus starring in his own version of Sleeping Beauty, it’s time for Claire to make her escape. She’s nearly out her door when…
…Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ. Claire, you’d better get used to this woman trying to ruin your life.
“You’re a witch, right? Can you make Jamie fall in love with me?”
”Sure. Here’s some horseshit.”
Crisis with Laoghaire averted, Claire is furtively running through the castle halls when she’s accosted by three little pigs and then a big bad wolf…I might be mixing up my fairy tales here. Anyway, some drunk guys try to molest her and she’s saved by drunk Dougal, who then himself tries to molest her, until she thwacks him over the head with a chair.
CLAIRE. It might be time to rethink this escape plan, considering you can barely make it out of the flippin’ castle alive. Inverness might be reaching just a skosh too far in terms of goals, don’t ya think?
But bravely (perhaps stupidly) she endeavors forward, until she trips over this handsome dude in the stable:
JAMIE. You suck at hiding.
I mean…he’s laying exactly where someone could trip right over him and he’s…hiding in the stable? Where he is ALL THE TIME?
Honestly, these two. After rewatching this episode I’m surprised they survive anything. I kid, I kid. Nothing but love.
Gah, that smile. Never again hide that beautiful face under a pile of straw, Jamie.
They have a cute moment in the stable as Jamie convinces Claire her plan is destined to fail. He also appreciates the mental imagery of Dougal getting hit with a chair.
Claire is understandably a little too preoccupied with her own life to stop and consider why Jamie is hiding in the first place. In any case, he offers to sneak her back to the castle and she takes him up on it, until…
…a bunch of dudes show up and force Jamie back into the castle to get dressed up and go to the Gathering. Worst episode of Queer Eye ever.
Let’s all give this proper admiration, since I’m sure the art department and props spent forever on it.
Okay, Jamie, time for your big makeover reveal!
Attaboy. If you have to navigate the politics of your two murderous uncles you might as well look devastatingly handsome doing it, amirite?
Murtagh, can you give us some exposition and explain to Claire and the audience why Jamie was hoping to not be the Cinderella at this ball?
Sure thing. Everyone is expected to swear allegiance to Colum at the Gathering. If Jamie takes the oath then he could be in line to be laird and usurp Dougal via a leadership coup after Colum dies. If Jamie doesn’t give his allegiance, Colum will think he’s an ungrateful loaf who deserves to die. Either way someone wants to kill him.
Not to worry. Jamie refuses to give his vow to Colum but promises loyalty and aid to Leoch for as long as he’s here. Very nicely played, sir.
Three cheers for Jamie! Everyone is relieved that no one is getting murdered tonight.
Before we leave the Gathering, I must say it’s too bad Geillis isn’t featured more prominently in these scenes. What she’s wearing is truly gorgeous and the story behind the costume is really interesting:
Our little Jacobite femme fatale.
Here, piggy, piggy, piggy…
Claire accompanies the men on the boar hunt in official healer capacities, not bothering to hide her disdain for this particular activity…which I think is a bit unfair of her—has she not been eating meat at the castle for the past few weeks? I’m fairly certain there won’t be grocery stores around Leoch for quite some time.
As in the first half of the episode, Claire wildly underestimates the danger in this situation. Actually, as much as I love her, I would say “underestimating danger” is one of her most consistent character traits.
Badness ensues. A character named Geordie has been gored by a boar, his injuries fatal without modern medicine (and there’s a good chance they’d be fatal despite modern medicine).
This is a quietly brilliantly scene and I’m sure it is where all involved thank their lucky stars they managed to cast both Graham McTavish and Caitriona Balfe.
“Tell me about your home.” Words Claire has no doubt spoken dozens of times as a battlefield nurse, but nonetheless still very personal and effective. Geordie dies relatively peacefully in Dougal’s surprisingly comforting arms.
I love the framing of that last shot, with the hunters convened under the trees in silent respect— the other “gathering” in this episode.
The group somberly returns to Leoch, where they happen upon Jamie and others engaged in a game of shinty…which appears (to me) to be an equal mix of field hockey, rugby, and testosterone.
Dougal and Jamie work out some grief and tension by beating the crap out of each other. It should be noted that Jamie eventually gets the upper hand…which is also a bit of foreshadowing.
Dougal stops by later to praise Claire for her demeanor and skill during Geordie’s death. “You’ve seen men die before…and by violence.” Just as Claire is consistently underestimating dangerous situations, I would say the character flaw of others is that they are consistently underestimating her.
Knowing what we know now about Dougal, this is just about as good as it gets in terms of compliments. He informs her a group will be leaving in the morning to go on the road and conduct business on behalf of Leoch…and she will be going with them. Claire gets a new spark of hope, realizing she will probably get a chance to get closer to Inverness.
Road trip! If you’re going to be forced to live rough with a bunch of men and no modern menstrual supplies you might as well look devastatingly gorgeous doing it, amirite?
And there’s our cowboy shot. Riders at dawn, adventure awaits. Snow White and her Seven Highlanders.
Until next week…