{TB Talks TV} Outlander Review: “The Devil’s Mark”

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Tweetable Takeaway: Claire must make a big choice in this week’s #Outlander after narrowly escaping death.

Airtime: Saturdays at 9pm on Starz

By: Jeff Iblings, Contributor

Claire has big choices to make in this week’s  episode, but first she has to find a way to escape unscathed from her arrest for witchcraft.

There are funny parallels between Christianity in the 1700’s and the folklore or pagan beliefs still prevalent at the time. Sure, the idea of faeries and changelings are clearly ridiculous to Claire, but what’s equally ridiculous are the superstitious beliefs of the church. These men see Satan behind everything they can’t understand or make sense of. The church leaders work the townsfolk’s bloodlust to the boiling point in anticipation of burning a pair of “witches” at the stake.

The mentality that independent and capable women are somehow in league with devil is just a sad reflection of the patriarchal society in which Claire finds herself. If a woman doesn’t stick to the strict social mores society expects her to, she surely has to be either in league with the devil or possessed by him. God forbid this woman were an example to the other women of society, showing there are different ways to live your life than the ones proscribed by church elders and tradition. If more and more women lived their lives as they wished instead of bending to the will of the men in their lives these patriarchs would lose their grip on society. It seems likely this is the real reason behind witch trials in general, and part of the reason Claire and Geillis find themselves in this situation.

Granted Geillis did poison her husband so she could be with Dougal, but Claire was just at the wrong place at the wrong time as orchestrated by Laoghaire. As Claire knows from her history lessons, women involved in these trials more often than not ended up being found guilty and burned to death. Things don’t look so good for Geillis and Claire as witnesses tell their tall tales of the dirty deeds these two women are purported to have done. Thankfully an unlikely hero in Ned Gowan appears in their hour of need to represent them in this “trial”.

The Damning evidence piles up, but Ned has a deft hand when it comes to the legal ins and outs of courtrooms. He takes some of the most damning evidence against the two women and turns both the evidence and the witness’s reliability into question. It seems like Ned is on the way to swaying the townsfolk and the court into finding a not guilty verdict, but Rev. Wakefield puts on a show for the congregation which leads them to believe Claire has bewitched him. It’s his testimony that changes the positive work Ned’s done and pushes the trial past the point of no return.

Someone is going to burn as a witch, and Ned advises Claire to admit to the court that she was under the sway of Geillis and had nothing to do with any witchcraft. Since everyone already suspected Geillis of being a witch there’s no saving her, but Claire can save herself by betraying her friend. In the backroom deliberations between Geillis and Claire the truth comes out. Claire can’t bring herself to turn on Geillis, and Geillis admits to Claire she’s from 1968 as both women are sentenced to death.

In a sequence that mirrors Jamie’s past, Claire is whipped for a crime she didn’t commit, only Jamie comes to her rescue and threatens to kill any man who lays another hand on her. Geillis knows she’ll be burnt as a witch no matter what, and saves Claire. She admits to the court she’s possessed by the devil, carries his child, and tells them Claire had no idea she was under bewitchment. She shows her 20th century smallpox vaccination scar as proof of the “Devil’s Mark” on her body. In the commotion Claire and Jamie escape.

What follows is the moment we’ve all been waiting for … the truth comes pouring out of Claire. Jamie asks her if she’s a witch since she too has the vaccination scar. He wants the truth from Claire, so she lays everything on the line and tells him who she is and that she’s from the future. He believes her, but has a hard time wrapping his head around it all. Jamie is a sensitive man, and once the whole story is out, he feels terrible about spanking her for only trying to get back to the standing stones and back to her husband.

Jamie loves Claire, and only wants her to be happy. If that means he can’t have her, it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make. He brings her back to the standing stones, the place she’s been trying to get back to the entire first half of the series. “There’s nothing for you on this side but violence and danger” he tells her. It’s a tough decision for him to make, and he stops her hands the first time she tries to touch the stones. He doesn’t want to see it, so he waits at their camp to leave in the morning if she doesn’t come back.

There’s a brilliant “did she or didn’t she” sequence with Claire’s hands outstretched reaching for the stones which fades to black before her hands touch it. Claire rouses Jamie at camp. For now she’s staying in the 1740’s with Jamie.

More thoughts:

  • If Geillis is from 1968 and Claire is from 1945, how many more people have been transported back? If Geillis is from 23 years in the future, is it possible for Claire to transport forward in time?
  • Now that Laoghaire has failed in having Claire burnt at the stake as a witch, will this be the end of her quest to win back Jamie?
  • Did Colum really have something to do with Claire and Geillis being arrested for witchcraft as Ned insinuates? How did Jamie know to come back and save Claire? How will Dougal react to Colum allowing Geillis to be burnt as a witch with Dougal’s child inside of her?
  • “Looks like I’m going to a fucking barbeque” – Geillis.
  • Did Claire really choose Jamie, or did she touch the stones and nothing happened?

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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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