{TB Talks TV} Outlander Review: “By the Pricking of My Thumbs”

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 Tweetable Takeaway: Events transpire to poison the tranquility of Claire and Jamie’s life in this weeks #Outlander.

Airtime: Saturdays at 9pm on Starz

By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor

The opening scene of this weeks  is a brilliant encapsulation of the entire episode. Claire and Jamie’s love is interrupted by clan business. This interruption seems innocent at first, but will spiral out of control by the end of the episode.

The interruption is caused by the arrival of the Duke of Sandringham. We know this name from the previous episode “The Garrison Commander” when Claire uses her knowledge from the 1940’s to try and outsmart Blackjack. Frank had told her the Duke of Sandringham had been Blackjack’s protector, and her gamble with Blackjack backfired on her when he caught her in a lie.

Sandringham holds the key to taking the bounty off of Jamie’s head, which in his romantic view would allow Claire and him to go back to his/their home of Lallybroch. The problem is that Duke truly is a friend with Blackjack, and Claire fears that trusting the Duke will only lead to trouble.

Communication in a traditionally patriarchal society where women are seen as possessions is tricky for both Claire and Jamie to go against. In her case, she hasn’t yet told Jamie that she’s from the future, so he doesn’t realize that the things she knows aren’t just whims, but facts. He takes what she tells him about Sandringham in stride, but still trusts his fate to the Duke. It has unfortunate results.

Later Claire makes the same mistake that ended with her in Blackjack’s grasp and in need of rescue … she disobeys Jamie’s order. Granted Laoghaire dupes her at the time, but the results of her not heeding Jamie is equally as disastrous.

One thing you have to admire Claire for is she really knows how to use information to her advantage. She has all of these tidbits of knowledge from her future life, and for what she doesn’t already know, she has a keen knack for sussing out the truth. In this manner she’s every bit as powerful as a man, and we see how she bends the Duke to her ways by just dropping hints of what she knows when it seems her appeals are falling on deaf ears.

Though she gets what she wants from the Duke, it doesn’t come without a price. Jamie must be his second in a duel the Duke has been challenged to. The problem is that it’s with a rival clan, the McDonalds. The Duel finishes without bloodshed, but Jamie’s main problem in Outlander seems to be his pride. In a battle of words he offends the McDonalds so strongly that three of them attack him. Luckily he defeats them all (not sure if her killed any) but he doesn’t escape unscathed.

Courtesy of Starz

Claire’s made a pretty intense enemy in Laoghaire. I expect Laoghaire to be active in her pursuit of Jamie even if it means destroying Claire, but I didn’t expect her to admit it to Claire’s face.   It turns out Laoghaire got the ill wish from Geillis, who proves herself to be an incredible wild card and danger to Claire’s safety. It doesn’t help that she’s pregnant with Dougal’s child. I see the two of them throwing a wrench in Claire and Jamie’s life. Now whether that means harming Colum and the clan, I’m not sure. I just see them being forces of antagonism for Claire and Jamie in the future.

Claire finds Geillis at night in the woods performing a ceremony that’s eerily familiar to the one she witnessed in the standing stones with Frank before travelling back in time. Later while they walk, the cries of a baby ring out. Someone has left their sick baby in a tree hoping the fairies will take the changeling they left back and return the real child. The baby dies, and Claire learns there are real consequences to the strange mixture of paganism and Christianity the people believe in. For Claire, witchcraft and folklore are fictitious ways to explain away something that has a scientific explanation. She finds herself at the mercy of a similar situation later.

Geillis, who I assume is also from the future, is married to a bloated, flatulent man but carries Dougal’s baby. Dougal is also married, so for the two of them to be together both of their spouses will have to die. In the ceremony Geillis performs in the woods, she burns a figure that represents Dougal’s wife, who then mysteriously dies of a high fever days later. When Geillis’s husband drops dead at Colum’s feast, Claire smells the unmistakable odor of cyanide on Geillis’s husband’s lips. A quick look of joy exchanges between Geillis and Dougal. Colum notices and quickly figures the whole thing out.

The interruption of Claire and Jamie’s life comes swift in the aftermath of the party and the duel. Colum banishes Dougal to keep him and Geillis apart, and being no fan of Geillis, will likely persecute her. He makes Jamie go with Dougal to keep an eye on him and as punishment for his role in fighting with the McDonald clan after the duel. Jamie orders Claire to steer clear of Geillis. After he leaves, a message arrives purportedly from Geillis asking for her help. When she arrives, both Geillis and Claire are arrested for witchcraft in a plot engineered by Laoghaire.

Courtesy of Starz

More thoughts:

  • Duke Sandringham takes the petition of complaint against Blackjack and helps Claire and Jamie. He’s not very trustworthy though, so I’m not sure how it will all play out. Does Blackjack have something held over Sandringham’s head? I have a feeling the complaint will only make things worse for Jamie over the long haul.
  • Geillis is a danger to Claire. I know she acts like they’re friends, but we’ve seen her orchestrate the deaths of both her husband and Dougal’s wife to get what she wants. If her and Dougal team up they may be unstoppable. We’ve seen Dougal’s ambitions, and if you combine their two wills the clan will either break apart in civil war, or Dougal will find a way to get rid of Colum. Either way it would be in the best interest of Claire and Jamie to get to Lallybroch and away from these two however they can.
  • Laoghaire is clever and vicious. She tells Claire right to her face what she intends, and then pulls one over on Claire and gets her arrested for witchcraft. I’m sure Claire will find a way out of it, but not before she comes up against the sinister Rev. Wakefield who already has it out for her.

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For six months out of the year Jeff is holed up in his home with nothing to do but shovel snow, watch television, write, and dream of warmer climates. Twitter: @OfSoundnVision

Keep up with all of Jeff’s Outlander reviews here.
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