If one were only paying attention to Faux News and Congress, one would think that Benghazi was and is a scandal of monumental proportions without precedence of any kind.  So much so that many Republicans routinely say they will use it as evidence for impeachment.  They also use it as a wonderful distraction from things that remain unresolved such as our plan to drop bombs on ISIS, Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, Immigration Reform, and our slow moving economy.  Not that it isn’t important–it is and the causes that lead to the breakdown in security at our Benghazi Consulate have since been corrected.

What is most important about Benghazi is how Republicans are using it as a political football by saying it is unique and something that should be laid exclusively at President Obama’s feet.  In reality there have been no less than thirteen, yes I said 13, previous attacks on U.S. Consulates, Embassies and their associated staff and troops abroad during the Bush Presidency from 2002 until 2008 before President Obama was elected.  Bob Cesca over The Daily Banner  has the complete list.  If we want to go further back, there are plenty more.  I distinctly remember the bombing of our marine barracks in Beirut back in 1983 under yet another Republican president, good ol Ronnie Raygun.

When those incidents occurred what did we hear?  Did we see Dems attacking those Presidents?  Or did we see everyone understand that those are dangerous jobs in dangerous places doing important work for our country?   There were no calls for impeachment, no endless investigations that failed to find anything, no scandals, nothing.  Because shit happens overseas in dangerous regions.  But the fact that there’s nothing there to find with Benghazi doesn’t matter to Republicans.  They keep beating that dead horse (just like they did with ACORN).

The GOP propaganda machine has realized that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.   And it doesn’t hurt that the majority of the news media in the U.S. is owned by a very small group of rich conservative white males and their monopolistic corporations. Fortunately for Americans (and my sanity) they can’t change history or hide reality so long as liberal bloggers like Bob, media watchdogs like Media Matters, and individual bloggers like myself keep up the good fight.  So here’s your daily dose of truth–Benghazi was tragic and has been appropriately addressed.  The rate of these kinds of attacks have actually been less under President Obama.  It was not unique or evidence of wrongdoing constituting impeachable offenses.  If it were, then all thirteen of the attacks Bob listed would have been as well.

St. Andrew's Cross, The Scottish Flag

St. Andrew’s Cross, The Scottish Flag

First, I know Scotland is having the big VOTE for independence today and I want to wish them luck.  I know a lot of respected economists are saying it isn’t a good idea BUT my heart says I hope they vote Yes and they can work out the details later.  I seriously doubt that England will shoot itself in the foot by refusing to let them continue to use the British pound for their currency.  If they do, it will be colossally stupid and destabilizing for both countries.  My opinion is definitely colored by my Irish heritage.   Even though Scotland has a longer history of being part of the U.K. than Ireland, it doesn’t change the fact that it originally occurred as a mater of conquest.  I only wish that a united Ireland could do the same.

Second, I’m so very tired of hearing the constant negative press against the President.  It’s like the American media isn’t in touch with reality any more.  They’re just so dead set on being against the Administration (Faux News, I’m looking at you) or they’ve wed themselves to the idea of appearing centrist (even NPR drank the kool aid on this nonsense) that they won’t report what’s really going on.   Here’s what they’re not telling Americans.

Pesky facts about how President Obama has actually improved things in the U.S.

Pesky facts about how President Obama has actually improved things in the U.S.

Do you see the difference in Deficit % of GDP, that’s frigging huge!  And that’s not disputable….it’s a fact.  But try to tell a conservative that the president has reduced the deficit and they will have a hissy fit.  It doesn’t fit into their narrative so it couldn’t possibly be true.  Ht to @BlueNationUnited for the graphic

My review of Episode 6 of Season 1, Outlander entitled “The Garrison Commander”.  If you haven’t read the books, don’t read any further.

 

!!!! OUTLANDER SPOILERS !!!!!

 

Okay, you probably expected me to say this but WOW! Tobias Menzies knocked it out of the park this episode and Caitriona Balfe stepped up her game considerably. Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore took the first encounter between Claire and Randall from a few pages in the book and expanded it into an entire episode that crackles with tension. IMHO Menzies should get an Emmy nomination for his acting in this episode–it really is that good.

Claire’s emotions run the gamut. She starts out feeling relieved. Finally in the presence of other British citizens, she thought she was going to be safer and for the first time in a long while, she did not feel like an outsider. The British officers, lead by a Lord Thomas with the rank of General, were very happy to see her as well not having seen a English gentlewoman in some time. Dougal, on the other hand, was the outsider and as expected, the British officers were very insulting to him. They talked about him as if he wasn’t even in the room, insulted his speech, threatened him, dismissed him….the list is long and he wasn’t even in the room but for a few minutes in the beginning of the episode. You have to admire Dougal here. He’s in enemy territory, surrounded by hostile men and he didn’t back down. He even called the General out for his poor behavior in front of Claire. The General called Dougal ill mannered, which was ironic in the extreme since Dougal was nothing of the kind until the Brits started showing their metaphorical asses.

Claire and General Thomas

An English Rose

Snotty, arrogant prick

Snotty, arrogant prick

Claire made quite the impression with her manners and charisma. She had them convinced she was an innocent victim (which she really is, of course, just not in the way they think) until Black Jack Randall burst into the room. Her feeling of safety evaporated upon seeing him. Both of them were shocked to see the other but Randall recovered better. They both gave the General the impression that they had never met before. Randall couldn’t admit to finding her and not seeing to her safety the first time around. Nor did he want to mention the fact that he attempted to rape her on their initial encounter. Likewise, Claire couldn’t admit to knowing him without drastically changing the story she had just told the other officers, which would cast doubt on the veracity of everything else she said. She also wouldn’t be able to explain why she ran from Randall in the first place. To do that she’d have to report the near rape and as we saw with Colum, no one would believe her, gossip about Randall notwithstanding.

So Randall’s entrance was very sudden and cranked up the drama just when Claire was thinking she was home free. This scene not only sets up the main confrontation of the episode but it also serves to demonstrate Randall’s power even among the officers. He was downright rude to the General who he clearly has no respect for. I have to say I agree on the General…a silly, arrogant poof who wouldn’t know subtlety if it slapped in the face. There was a point earlier where the General says in front of Dougal that if he stays long enough in Scotland, he might just be made a Laird (with maximum mocking Scottish emphasis on the word). Although my family is a few generations removed from Ireland that statement created quite the visceral reaction in me because that’s one of the many things the English did in Ireland as well. The English Kings gave land and title to Englishmen and stole the land right out from under the Irish. For Scottish and Irish people there was nothing more important to them than the land they lived on–it was not only their birthright, it was a fundamental piece of who they were. To take it from them, make them live on it as tenants with forced obligations to some foreign twit who treated them like animals, was almost unbearable. So the insult and threat behind the General’s statements really got my dander up and it obviously wasn’t lost on Dougal. Anyway, I digress.

Randall’s responses to the General was at times dismissive and condescending but the General let it slide. Claire should have seen the dynamic at play and realized that Randall was powerful enough to insult a General in front of an entire cadre of officers and get away with it. She may have been in shock or she just didn’t see what was going on. In any case, Randall proceeds to masterfully manipulate both Claire and the other officers.  I kept saying to screen, “shut up, Claire, shut up!” Suffice it to say, Randall succeeded in planting a large seed of doubt in the General’s mind and Claire sealed her fate by saying that she doesn’t blame the Scots for being angry since the Brits are occupying their land.  In 1945 such a statement would not have been treasonous but in 1743 it was most certainly considered as such.

Even though the General is doubting her he still says she should go home as soon as possible. And no sooner does Claire ask if she can leave for Inverness that day than they are interrupted, learning that the Scots supposedly fired upon British soldiers at the edge of town with one soldier is dead and another badly wounded. Once again Claire can’t help herself when it comes to someone in need of medical care. So she goes downstairs and helps amputate the soldier’s arm. At this point we are given the impression that someone is acting as an agent provocateur, trying to gin up hostility between the two sides because Dougal is very clear that it was not his men. The most likely culprit is Randall. Claire, bloodied and tired, returns upstairs to find her hope in the form of the General has left the Inn without giving her permission to go to Inverness. She finds, instead, Randall having his face shaved by a corporal using the very razor that she would shave Frank’s face with 200 years in the future . These memories of Frank are really getting in Claire’s way because she can’t help but think of Frank, who is or will be a kind gentle man, when she interacts with Randall. This puts her at a distinct disadvantage that she won’t be fully aware of until this episode ends.

It was a mistake for Claire to leave the room

It was a mistake for Claire to leave the room

Claire remembers using Black Jack's razor on Frank 200 years in the future

Claire remembers using Black Jack’s razor on Frank 200 years in the future

Randall keeps her off balance by first apologizing for his behavior on the day they met and begins interrogating her in a relatively polite manner. Claire, unfortunately, is not a good liar, making mistakes like admitting to knowing he is from Sussex, which she only knows due to Frank’s genealogy research. Such an admission that she knows something about him that other people do not only puts her in more danger. When he asks her about her maiden name, she doesn’t answer and instead argues that she should be allowed to go home. This tells him that she is lying about her name. He basically accuses her of being an empty headed trollop or an agent in league with the King’s enemies. Obviously she can’t tell him the truth and she isn’t either of those things so she comes up with another story about her unfortunate love affair with an officer who misled her. Another mistake that Claire makes is that she keeps appealing to his gentlemanly nature.  Randall only acts like a gentleman when it gets him what he wants. Ultimately, Randall doesn’t believe the new story either.

Claire is forced to make up yet another tale

Claire is forced to make up yet another tale

And Black Jack doesn't believe her, again

And Black Jack is skeptical

There was one thing that puzzled me in this scene. In the middle of the scene, while still questioning her he draws her likeness on a napkin and asks her opinion. I’m not sure if this was a ploy to get her to come closer to him, if he wanted to have her likeness in case he needed to make wanted posters or if he was trying throw her off balance again. In any case, he tells her he will call the drawing, “Beautiful Lies”. The tone of the interrogation shifts at that point and he offers her a deal–provide evidence of Dougal’s Jacobite activities and Randall will allow her to go to Inverness. She refuses, of course, and she demands he either arrest her or leave her alone to wait for the General’s return. He ignores her and threatens to use “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

Randall draws Claire's picture on a napkin

Randall draws Claire’s picture on a napkin

"You will not leave this room until I am satisfied that you are as innocent as you claim to be" Randall

“You will not leave this room until I am satisfied that you are as innocent as you claim to be” Randall

Then Claire makes a HUGE mistake. She admits to seeing the result of those “techniques”.  She gives away that she has met Jaime and that the McKenzie clan has been sheltering him at Castle Leoch. Not only is she giving away too much information, she opens a can of worms that she’ll forever regret. Randall proceeds to tell her how he laid Jaime’s back open. In the book it was different because it was Dougal who tells her the story of Jaime’s second flogging after her disturbing meeting with Randall.  On the show Randall is kind of using her to confess his darkness but he’s also telling her as a warning. And he’s probably telling her because he wants to watch her fear and disgust grow–he’s a sadist and her fear and anger only excite him more.

This is an Emmy worthy scene for Menzies and the make-up and prosthetic department and if you see nothing else of the episode you should watch this part. Randall narrates the events and his feelings while we watch every stroke. I should warn you though, the flashback to Jaime’s flogging is absolutely brutal. My boyfriend, 14+ years as a first responder has seen many absolutely horrifying things in life and even he was shocked by the flogging. The wounds on Jaime’s back looked so real that I had to avert my eyes several times. And I’ll admit to tears. Claire mistakes him telling the story as a means of expressing remorse and I was shocked that she so clearly misread how deep the man’s sadism extends. But I think it goes back to Frank. She thinks there is some tiny bit of decency in him still–it’s as if she needs to believe it. Also, Claire is a very empathic person. She’s seen what war does to people’s psyche. All this comes together and makes her see him as another version of Frank, if he’d been to the front and been mentally damaged by it–in the end there is some pity amongst the horror. Feeling pity is also a mistake because Randall doesn’t want her pity as she will soon learn.

"I'm just afraid I'll freeze stiff before you're done talking" Jaime

“I’m just afraid I’ll freeze stiff before you’re done talking” Jaime

"All they could see was the horror but I could see the beauty." Randall

“All they could see was the horror but I could see the beauty.” Randall

Another mistake that Claire makes is that she thinks he cares about her opinion of him, but he really doesn’t. He can confess to her for the opposite reason. Because she doesn’t matter–she is disposable. By hearing his confession she is in even greater danger than before. Claire is dealing with a creature she has never encountered before and she is in way over her head. Randall is so very clever. He knows that she has mistaken his motives and doesn’t yet understand the depths of his depravity. He uses her pity against her to make her think there is some chance of redemption for him. He teases her by saying he should let her go back to Inverness as his first step toward that redemption and Claire buys it, hook, line and sinker. That is until he helps her to her feet and punches her in the stomach, full force. This is followed by him ordering the corporal to kick her while she is down, which the corporal does twice before Dougal busts into the room.

"I dwell in darkness, madam. And darkness is where I belong." Randall

“I dwell in darkness, madam. And darkness is where I belong.” Randall

Dougal demands that he be allowed to leave with Claire and claims that Randall cannot continue to question Claire on McKenzie land (the Inn and village the soldiers are currently in is in McKenzie territory). And if not allowed to leave, then it will be a declaration of war. Apparently Dougal is making a decent legal argument so they are allowed to leave but he is ordered to surrender her at Ft. William by tomorrow at sundown, where Randall will be on British “land” and can do whatever he wants to her. Dougal and Claire hightail it out of there but instead of taking her back to their camp he takes her to the Spring of St. Ninian, aka the Liar’s Spring. He asks her, one final time, if she is a spy and she says no, like she has a thousand times before. This time he believes her because he believes the superstition surrounding the spring. If a person lies right after drinking its water, it is supposed to burn out their “gizzard”. Once he’s determined she’s no real threat, Dougal tells her his plan to save her from Randall’s clutches. She’ll have to become a Scottish citizen because while Randall can compel a British citizen to submit themselves for questionning, he can’t force a Scottish person from clan lands without the Laird’s permission. And to become Scottish, she’ll have to marry a Scotsman.

Dougal threatens war on Claire's behalf

Dougal threatens war on Claire’s behalf

"The idea of grinding your corn does tickle me" Dougal

“The idea of grinding your corn does tickle me” Dougal

Claire is very against the idea but she can hardly explain why. So while examining the written contract that Ned Gowan had prepared, Jaime, her soon to be groom, brings her some booze and discusses why he is willing to marry her. Jaime says that he owes her for all the medical care she’s given him and he’s her friend and a friend would never leave her to Randall’s not so tender mercies. He admits to not being much of a catch as he has little money to live off of and there is a price on his head, so he could be caught and hung at any time. Then comes one of my favorite exchanges from the book. In one last ditch attempt to get him to say no, Claire asks Jaime if it bothers him that she’s not a virgin. And he responds, “No, so long as it doesna bother you that I am.”  In the books, this entire conversation occurred in an Inn but here they’ve done it outdoors at their camp. But it’s the same dialog as from the book and it works just as well. The episode ends with Claire snatching an entire bottle of alcohol from Dougal and walking away with the contract in one hand and the booze in the other.

Claire is surely thinking there's not enough alcohol in the world to make me forget my problems but I'm game to try

Claire is surely thinking there’s not enough alcohol in the world to make me forget my problems but I’m game to try

"I reckon one of us should ken what they're doing" Jaime

“I reckon one of us should ken what they’re doing” Jaime

Next week is the wedding and millions of women worldwide are swooning with anticipation. But as I’ve said many times, this series isn’t just about romance and all of the episodes so far are more than ample proof of that. However, this episode, in particular, stands out and deserves all the critical acclaim being heaped upon it.

My review of Outlander Season 1 Episode 5 entitled “Rent”. If you haven’t read Outlander and the subsequent books there are spoilers below. You are forewarned.

!!!!OUTLANDER SPOILERS!!!!

Claire is on the road with a group of the McKenzie men to collect rents from tenants on McKenzie lands. Dougal has another motive as well that takes Claire a bit to suss out. He’s basically rousing up the countryside and collecting money to fund the next Jacobite uprising. If you’re not familiar with the Scottish uprisings of the 1700’s the series might be a bit confusing but I think the show does a good job of explaining what’s going on (here’s a primer if you want to know more). Suffice it to say that Claire has landed in a much larger maelstrom that seems to be sweeping her up into it.

Claire is forlorn

Claire is forlorn

The opening scene shows Claire quoting from John Donne (one of my favs) and Ned joining her to finish it. The weird thing about it is that I couldn’t tell if she was in the past or the future until Ned stepped into the frame. It gave me a weird sense of dislocation. I wonder if anyone else had the same feeling. Ned was a character I enjoyed in the books and we get to see his relationship with Claire. We are shown his good nature, his devotion to Dougal and the Jacobite cause and his desire to be kind to Claire. And it’s no wonder that Claire enjoys his company because as this episode makes clear, the men she’s with care little for her female sensibilities, except perhaps for Jaime, by telling ribald jokes accompanied by rude gestures in illustration. It’s not that she’s not used to such ribaldry surely since she’d been a army nurse in France. I think it’s more that she doesn’t really like these men that she’s with (again with the exception of Jaime and Ned). Indeed that’s what this episode is about–Claire coming to understand and sympathize with the Highlanders as they travel through the gorgeous countryside.

Ned Gowan, the lawyer who dreamed of adventure

Ned Gowan, the lawyer who dreamed of adventure

Claire starts out watching their joviality from afar and schemes of leaving

Claire starts out watching their joviality from afar and schemes of leaving

This process, however, takes a while. In the beginning she sits separate from the men when they eat and listens to their bawdy jokes from afar most of which are spoken in Gaelic, which is on purpose and she knows it. It only reinforces her feeling of being a captive. She accepts the exclusion and does nothing to counter it because she intends to make her time with them brief. But it still bothers her as she tells Jaime, “they hate me”. He tells her they don’t hate her but they certainly don’t trust her. Jaime himself indicates he doesn’t trust her not to run and he knows she has secrets but he doesn’t think she’s a spy. The news that Jaime can read her intentions so clearly disturbs Claire.

The first village they show them in Claire is bored watching the long line of tenants turn over small coins and goods but not so bored that she doesn’t notice that Ned has two bags instead of one for collections. Hearing some women singing she wanders off to find them and gets involved in waulking wool.

Imagine my surprise to find that the women use hot piss to set the dye into the wool and that piss is their very own. I always thought they used horse piss. I simply could not have done that work. Claire takes to it with no problem and receives a warm welcome into their circle. Even though they accept her, she is still clearly a stranger making toasts that they don’t understand at all like “Bottom’s Up” and “Geronimo” (this one made my Native American boyfriend guffaw). Claire uses the conversation to find out how close Craig Na Dun is but she’s still three days away. She is enjoying herself, drinking strong tipple and even adding to the piss bucket, until Angus interrupts her midstream and angrily removes her from the hut. She’s angry about being so rudely and abruptly removed. Claire must surely miss other women and feeling like she is a part of something. So it’s no surprise after being chivied by Angus that when she arrives at the horses she’s angry and had enough with being pushed around.

Claire joins in with the waulking

Claire joins in with the waulking

Gie me the goat!!!

Gie me the goat!!!

She decides to return a goat to the family it was taken from because a baby needs it’s milk but the men are not having it. Rent comes first. Dougal as usual just orders her to shut up and get on her horse. I liked how much gumption she showed but I think had she not been so comfortable with the women and perhaps a little tipsy that she would not have attempted to take the goat. Anyway, it shows how strong willed she is and how she is starting to fight back although she’ll need to learn to pick her battles better. But knowing how the books go, I know that Claire will never back down from doing what she thinks is right even if it costs her and those she loves dearly.

And speaking of the trouble she gets into, a bit of trouble that will come back to haunt them later makes it’s appearance in the form of a British officer who inquires if Claire needs assistance. Since Claire and the officer are the only two British citizens in the area, there’s naught the officer can do at that moment. Claire is smart enough to keep her mouth shut. So He backs off and Dougal’s party leaves. I wonder how they will be using this new character. I’m willing to bet that we’ll see him again as he could be serving to fulfill several different English officer roles from the books. I’m eager to find out what his name is because I think or at least it will give us a clue.Then the episode gets to an important part of the story, where Dougal starts asking for money from people in an inn and using Jaime’s scarred back as a showpiece. Claire is so certain that Dougal is using Jaime to scare the townsfolk into giving him money for protection and that his main purpose is to line his own pockets.

An as yet unknown British officer

An as yet unknown British officer

Jaime, just like in the books, is not happy with it at all but what can he do? He took an oath to obey the McKenzie while he’s on their land and he needs Dougal for now. As to why he’s upset, as he said earlier in the season, he doesn’t let people see his back because they never see him as a whole person again. They just see the scars. And it makes people pity him and a proud man doesn’t want anyone’s pity. Another reason we learn later in this episode that it makes some people think Jaime is a coward for having let them whip him and he should have fought back until they killed him. Some people think they would rather have died than let the British “use him so”. So, Jaime hates the attention and so does Claire because she’s come to see Jaime as a friend and she cares about him. It also makes Claire distrust Dougal all that much more. If she didn’t realize how ruthless he was before, she ought to now.

The first night that Dougal uses Jaime's back as a prop

The first night that Dougal uses Jaime’s back as a prop

Only two centuries more before they deign to let us practice law!

Only two centuries more before they deign to let us practice law!

The next day Claire talks to Ned about his “creative” bookkeeping methods and Ned pretends she’s guessed correctly when in fact she’s not exactly got it all figured out. Ned is a little condescending to her by letting her think she’s right. Then he gives her a kind of backhanded compliment by saying that she has a shrewd mind and argues well and if they let women practice law, she would have made a good lawyer. Claire rejoins with “they don’t let them practice YET” and Ned parts her company by saying, “It’ll be a few centuries before that happens”. And once he’s out of hearing Claire says out loud “Only two”. It only took two more centuries. How many generations is that? Too many.Claire says that weeks pass with them on the road and began to really despair because she had no way of knowing where she was and the men continued to exclude her. At one point they stop to see some men burning a house and pilfering the belongings of a family. It’s the Black Watch (here’s more info on them) and Claire gets a lesson in politics of the day. The Black Watch get paid to protect people’s cattle and they’re Scotsmen that don’t like people cooperating with the British and passing along information but at the same time if they were to learn about Jaime and the price on his head, they wouldn’t hesitate to turn him over for the reward.

The Scotsmen she’s with accept it as a matter of course but Claire is incensed because in modern times this kind of behavior is illegal and not tolerated. Dougal also falls in her eyes once again because Dougal takes his cut from the Watch and Ned tells her it’s “business” not thievery. So once again her modern world view makes it hard for her to understand and integrate into life in the 1700’s.So Claire has her dander up again and at dinner when Angus offers her some of the birds that Dougal received from the Watch she refuses it and calls him a thief. I guess she’d reached her breaking point but she doesn’t realize what kind of tightrope she’s really walking until Angus pulls a knife on her and calls her a judgmental whore.  Jaime steps in and manages him with a little humor and lightness but it’s a near run thing. Jaime confronts her afterward and he reminds her that where she comes from doesn’t matter, because she’s there now and she needs to stay out of things that she doesn’t understand. Jaime’s right and he never fails to tell her what she should do. That’s one of the things I always liked about their relationship was that he never, ever failed to tell her something even if she didn’t like it. And she really didn’t like being told to deal with the fact that she’s there and to leave her nose out of their business.

Claire thinks she's better than Angus and he's getting tired of it

Claire thinks she’s better than Angus and he’s getting tired of it

"What's got into you woman?!" Jaime

“What’s got into you woman?!” Jaime

They continue from town to town collecting rents and doing the “rousing speech and Jaime exhibit”. Except this night Claire recognizes something in Dougal’s Gaelic speech–“long live the Stuart” and she finally understands that Dougal and his men are not thieving or extorting money from the people, they’re fomenting rebellion. This softens her heart a little bit because if there’s anything Claire understands its the urge to rebel against something unfair. Later that night she overhears and spies on Jaime and Dougal arguing. Jaime is finally telling Dougal he won’t let him use him any more. But Dougal reminds him of his oath and tells him that even though Colum isn’t there, Dougal represents him and that’s the end of it. It was curious to note that when Dougal tries to get Jaime to say he supports the Stuart cause Jaime doesn’t respond at all and it leaves us wandering what he really thinks about all this rebellious talk. In the end, Jaime decides not to push it further but it irks him to the point that he starts punching a tree to get his frustration out. Claire can’t help but intervene because he’s going to hurt himself and she feels sorry for him. She asks him why he lets Dougal keep using him and his answer is that Dougal is his uncle. Clearly it’s more than that but Jaime does say that at some point, a man has to choose what’s worth fighting for and for him that’s family. We saw him stand up for Jenny and in a way, it’s Dougal. I’m sure the rebellion is on his mind as well. If it came to it and the clans go to fight he’ll go but if they don’t, he’d probably just want to stay home and live his life in peace. He’s the epitome of the reluctant warrior. One other thing that I noted in this scene was how the sparks were flying between them. He tells her to go and get some sleep but she’s reluctant. He’s trying very, very hard to keep distance between them because he doesn’t want to get involved with her and he respects her. And while she consciously doesn’t want to either, she has got to be very lonely and they can identify with each other in a way. To make matters worse they can’t help but be attracted to one another. Poor Jaime is being such a gentleman.

Claire’s sympathy grows when she sees two Scotsmen who were executed and probably tortured by the British on the road to the next town. The more she sees the way the British treat them the more her sympathy will grow. Later that night Dougal tells people in an inn about what they found and they rake in a lot more money but Dougal’s ire is genuine–he’s fairly twitching with rage as he recounts how they found the bodies.

As Claire tries to sleep in a room upstairs by herself (finally she has some privacy!) she hears someone outside her door only to find and step on Jaime who is sleeping outside on the landing. He’s there to protect her from the “attentions” of the drunk Scotsmen downstairs. She offers to let him come into her room and the scandalized look on his face is priceless.  Once again Claire forgets she’s in the VERY Catholic world of the 1700’s where a woman is either a virtuous Madonna or a whore and there is little room between. Her reputation is of paramount importance not just because of what people think but also her own safety. See, Claire still doesn’t get it. And if I recall from the books it takes years for her to fully grasp that how she sees the world and how different it is from the reality of the past endangers her–frequently. Claire teases him a little and offers him the blanket off her bed and in doing so their hands meet. Once again sparks fly but remember we’re on a slow, slow burn. Of course, he goes back to sleeping on the floor with the door closed.

Two Scotsmen executed and strung up as a warning to the others

Two Scotsmen executed and strung up as a warning to the others

Sleep in your room, are ye daft woman?!

Sleep in your room, are ye daft woman?!

Claire feels guilty after scolding the men

Claire feels guilty after scolding the men

The next morning over breakfast Claire admits to Ned that she knows they’re raising money for the Jacobite cause and tries to tell him that it’s a fact their rebellion will fail without revealing that she’s from the future. Meanwhile some townsmen at the next table are talking and laughing and the McKenzie men stand up and proceed to beat the ever living daylights out of them. While patching up the McKenzie men and scolding them for acting like children, Murtagh tells her that they were defending her honor because the townsmen were talking about her being a prostitute and wanting to have a go at her.

In the book it’s different. Jaime decides on his own to sleep in front of her door to protect her and the other McKenzie men have nothing to do with it. Also he tells her that since the men downstairs already think she’s a prostitute (in their mind why would a sassanach wench be traveling with a group of men if not in their “employ”) they wouldn’t think Jaime was being gallant but that he was simply waiting his own turn. At this point in the book Claire was already feeling kindness and loyalty of a sort to the McKenzie men but that’s not how it’s paced in the show. So obviously the show has to find a way to engender a sense of gratitude in Claire not only towards Jaime but the McKenzie men as well to get her feelings up to the same point as she was in the books before they have another run in with the British. Anyway, it was bonny pub brawl if I ever saw one and it was fun to watch. I was a little surprised that Claire didn’t apologize when she found out it was on her behalf but at the same time how the hell was she supposed to know since she doesn’t speak Gaelic?!

The next morning you can tell that relations with the men are improving because it’s not long before Rupert is telling a story about a threesome that he had and Claire pipes in with a wee joke about his likely propensity for self-pleasure. It takes them a minute to realize she’s joking but once they get it, they find it quite funny. As they get ready to mount and leave the inn Jaime tells her it is three days ride to Culloden moor. Claire recalls her visit to the battlefield of Culloden two hundred years in the future with Frank. There she saw the headstone that said Clan McKenzie where dozens of their bodies will be buried en a mass grave three short years in the future. These men who have been feeding her, defending her with their own bodies and with whom she is earning some respect and camaraderie with are changing in her eyes and her pity and fear for them is growing. Note at the end of that scene who are the three men the camera lingers on when she wonders what men will die on that battlefield–I wonder if they will be the men who do actually die at Culloden.

"I believe your left hand gets jealous of your right. That's about all I believe!" Claire

“I believe your left hand gets jealous of your right. That’s about all I believe!” Claire

"Hahahaha....I've never heard a woman make a joke before!" Rupert

“Hahahaha….I’ve never heard a woman make a joke before!” Rupert

When they make camp for the night Angus actually helps Claire unload her belongings in a peace offering sort of way. Claire goes to wash up at the rive and Dougal comes down to confront her about who she really is and why she has been talking to Ned about the rebellion and sowing the seeds of doubt. She continues to insist she’s not a spy and says she’s trying to save their lives. Dougal is genuinely curious but before she can question him further the two of them are surrounded by dozen British soldiers on horseback. The same officer that we saw early on in the village has returned and this time he means to ascertain if she is in distress and have his own curiosity sated. He finally identifies himself as Lieutenant (or is that Leftenant?) Jeremy Foster, which is not a character I remember from the books. Dougal does his best to pull his McKenzie authority but it’s no good. It’s up to Claire to decide what to say to the British and that’s where the episode ends–just as she opens her mouth to answer. The music at the end is dissonant bagpipes building to a crescendo that goes into a slow mournful tune heavily featuring drums, presaging the violence that will no doubt occur in the next few episodes.

Ultimately, even if I hadn’t read the book, I seriously doubt she would endanger the McKenzie men. Whatever they’ve done to her she doesn’t feel they need to die for it. Furthermore she can’t say as she blames them for rebelling. And finally there’s a very practical reason why she’d say she’s okay. The odds of her escaping harm and getting away from the McKenzie men to go back to Craig Na Dun while wandering around the Highlands are infinitely higher than the odds of her avoiding harm in the clutches of the sadistic Captain Randall and escaping from within the strong walls of Fort William. She’s smart enough to know that she’s probably better off with the McKenzies. Unfortunately for her, it looks like from the previews that the British officer isn’t going to believe her and will cart her off to see Black Jack Randall anyway.

A good part of this episode was not in the books…the British officer, the goat, the waulking, the way the Black Watch are encountered and portrayed, the crucified men, etc but it’s actually refreshing to see the same ideas and plot points get communicated in new ways. I think they did a good job of it. I have read some online saying that it’s running too slow but I keep coming back to this point….how slow is too slow? I don’t need someone to die or explosions in every episode to make it interesting. However, I can see many who don’t already love the story as I do who won’t be able to hang in until the bigger plot points are reached. It will be their loss as the show is Starz biggest hit to date and has already been renewed for Season 2. As usual, I can’t wait for the next episode!

My review of “The Gathering”, Outlander Episode 4 Season 1. If you haven’t read the books, then this is full of spoilers and if you don’t want to know anything about the show before seeing it, then don’t read it!!!!

!!!!!OUTLANDER SPOILERS!!!!!!

I really enjoyed this episode! A lot of tension that has been bubbling comes to the surface.

New opening sequence ending?

New opening sequence ending?  Luceo Non Uro

The first three episodes’ opening sequence ended with Claire and Jaime riding across the Highlands together and then a pic of the standing stones, whereas this opening sequence ended with a still life of a candle, some plaid and the McKenzie pin.

They mess with us in the opening scene for a few seconds and make us think Claire is on the run but she’s just playing with the kids while scouting out the McKenzie defenses in preparation for her escape later that night.  As expected Rupert and Angus continue to play comedic relief.

Claire meets Brimstone the horse

Claire meets Brimstone the horse

In this ep Claire proves herself very clever indeed. She reconnoitered her escape route, found distractions for her guards, chose a horse, etc.  But she’s not so clever as to have figured out that Jaime REALLY needs to stay away from the castle during the Gathering. Auld Alec warns her in the stables but she either doesn’t get it or she’s just so focused on her own escape she’s not really paying attention to what he’s trying to say. One thing I liked about the sequence of her in the stable and afterward was the background music–a modern (1940’s) ballad provides a nice juxtaposition. Her body may be in the 1700’s but her mind is firmly dwelling on the 1900’s and she still wants to go home.

Claire is nervous as a cat in a room full of rockers, which explains why she is startled by Geillis waiting for her in the surgery. This scene did not occur in the books but it adds quite a lot to the building tension of Claire’s escape because Geillis seems to have guessed Claire’s plans. Geillis continues to pry information out of Claire, much to Claire’s only slightly hidden irritation. Geillis asks about the stock of food Claire has accumulated and the large amount of valerian root (used to aid in sleep). In the book, Claire reasons that her stock of food can be excused away by her need to feed many of the injured and sick people that she will be seeing during the Gathering and she didn’t use Valerian root because she didn’t think she’d need to–the whole clan will be either drunk or asleep. On the show, however, she doesn’t offer an explanation to Geillis for either the food or the Valerian root. Geillis pushes very hard to find out if Claire’s husband is dead but she also ends up revealing a bit about herself. Geillis implies that she came from some other place and that she had to struggle to get there. She also basically says that she married her husband for security that money and his position can buy. And she encourages Claire to adjust to life in and around Castle McKenzie like she did.   I was surprised by how much Geillis seems to genuinely care what happens to Claire, advising her against trying to make it on her own in the Highlands. Claire doesn’t, of course, listen and continues to gather things for her escape.

While trying to grab a knife in the kitchen Mrs. Fitz catches her and forces her to change into a nicer dress and attend the Oath Taking ceremony in the Hall. Mrs. Fitz is as eager as a little girl to be at the ceremony and delighted to be all dressed up. Then we see her getting kind of catty with none other than Herself, the author Diane Gabaldon playing Fiona, a woman standing in the upper gallery.   This pic below isn’t big enough to see her dress.  It’s lovely. You can see a pic of the full thing here.

Diane Gabaldon's cameo

Diane Gabaldon’s cameo

You could tell that Gabaldon was being very careful to pronounce everything just right. The Executive Producer, Ronald D. Moore, also had a cameo but I couldn’t spot him. When the ceremony begins it’s clear that Colum is proud of his family , his clan and himself. He doesn’t hide his legs, making the long slow walk down the Hall on purpose. He wants the clan to see his legs so that when Dougal kneels and makes his oath, first of all the McKenzie men to do so, it’s clear that Colum is in charge, stunted and twisted legs notwithstanding, and that Dougal accepts this and still supports Colum’s claim to be the Laird. It shows confidence and unity between the brothers even though we know that the relationship is less smooth than they want people to think. Right after giving his oath, kissing Colum’s hands and drinking with Colum, Dougal goes off to the side and drinks almost half a container of something dark and alcoholic as if to clean his mouth out.

Colum is proud of his wife and son

Colum is proud of his wife and son

Dougal making his Oath to Colum

Dougal making his Oath to Colum

Thankfully for Claire (and us), Murtagh is in the gallery to interpret the Gaelic of Colum’s speech. Remember Murtagh is not a McKenzie and his alliance is clearly and solely to Jaime for some reason (we’ll learn why later this season) so it makes sense for him to be upstairs and not among the McKenzie men waiting to take their oath. We get one more appearance by Gabaldon when she shushes Murtagh but he ignores her. Some other things I noticed about the Oath Taking….I didn’t realize how big the quaich that the oath takers and Colum drink from is! I knew in theory how big it was but seeing it for real, makes me REALLY admire just how much tolerance Colum must have. They don’t say it but I believe he has his favorite extra strong Rhenish in the quaich and every single oath taker will take a drink and Colum has to match them. That’s a lot of damn wine! While the rest of the men make their oaths, Claire tries to leave the Hall but Angus doesn’t want her to go at least until he “bags a lass for the evening”. Clever Claire appears to give in and pretends to share a bottle of port presumably laced with a lot of Valerian root.

Big ass cup called a quaiche

Big ass cup called a quaich

"That's no Rhenish!"  Rupert

“That’s no Rhenish!” Angus

Finally free of her guards Claire grabs her escape bundle, rushing out the surgery only to run into Laoghaire. Laoghaire is there to ask her for a “love potion” to use on Jaime, to “move his heart”. Apparently Laoghaire can move his parts but she can’t make him love her. This is very different from the book if I recall. Laoghaire never approached Claire for anything like this but had approached and received something from Geillis, which I believe was a curse of some sort that Laoghaire puts beneath Claire’s pillow in the castle. In the book she is trying to make Jaime stop loving Claire and love her instead. In the show Claire gives her a small bottle of horse dung because Jaime would never notice the smell in the stables. She tells Laoghaire to sprinkle it on his door and tap her heels together three times and say “There’s no place like love”. This is obviously a clever reference to the Wizard of Oz a movie first shown in 1939. This reference will become more appropos than Claire will like later in the season.

As she’s trying to rush through the Hall’s she comes across three very drunk McKenzie men with rape on their minds making Claire drop her bundle. Dougal rescues her and forces a big grabby and slobby kiss on her. He’s just about to let her go when he notices her bundle on the floor. Knowing the jig is up, she clobbers him over the head with a small chair knocking him out cold. In the book she doesn’t drop her bundle or he doesn’t see it and she doesn’t have to knock him out–he simply lets her go and he thinks she’s gone back to her room. Either way, it probably won’t matter but I guess we’ll see.

She finally gets to the stables only to be thwarted by Jaime, whom she steps on him on the way to her horse. He tries to reason with her to stay and she finally expresses her frustration and anger. She’s just a sassanach and doesn’t belong there. He offers to take her back to the Castle even though it’s really dangerous for him to be anywhere near the castle, on this night in particular. Claire admits to knocking Dougal out and Jaime just laughs it off saying Dougal will never remember it anyway

"I doubt very much he'll remember it"  Jaime

“I doubt very much he’ll remember it” Jaime

Jaime also says and does something interesting. He says, while rubbing the back of his head, “I hope you left a good mark so he remembers his error in judgement”. This makes me think they will be including something from the book that they haven’t directly mentioned yet….that is that Dougal tried to kill Jaime not that long ago and Jaime has a big thick scar on the back of his head from it. In the books, it’s why Jaime’s hair is shorter than everyone else’s…because they shaved his head to treat the wound, which almost did kill him, and it was just growing back when he met Claire.

So, ever the gallant Jaime tries to escort her back via a secret tunnel to avoid the guards and clansmen but they get caught by Angus and a couple of other men. The one man tries to manhandle Claire and Jaime leaps to her protection knocking the guy out only to be knocked unconscious himself by Angus. Inside they make him change clothes and he tells her that he can’t wear the McKenzie motto and instead tells her his own motto, “Je suis prest” or “I am ready”, but still doesn’t tell her his real full name.

Je suis prest, the Fraser motto

Je suis prest, the Fraser motto

His delivery was perfect and I was “Je suis prest” meself afterwards if’n you know what I mean! I’m finally convinced they couldn’t have found a better actor to play Jaime. Sam Heughan really is perfect in this role.

Back in the Hall, Claire is still clueless as Jaime enters the Hall and the entire McKenzie clan takes notice of his presence. Murtagh finally explains to her that no matter what Jaime does, whether he takes the Oath or not, he’s likely to lose his life as a result. If he doesn’t pledge the clan will be offended and kill him. If he does, he’d be declaring himself to be in line for the Lairdship, which would threaten Hamish’s claim, Colum’s son. Hamish doesn’t have a lock on the position. In tanistry, blood does sort of matter and Jaime is a McKenzie through his mother (she was Dougal and Colum’s sister) but that alone is not sufficient. The clan’s opinion also matters and they must choose the most vigorous and worthiest adult for the position. Jaime would certainly qualify, but he doesn’t want it because he stands to be Laird of his Father’s own estate (except for the wee bit of trouble having to do with a price on his head, which he is trying to find a way out of).

Unfortunately, Dougal doesn’t know or doesn’t care what Jaime’s real views are about the matter. Dougal had always assumed he would become Laird once his brother Colum died, which everyone assumed wouldn’t be much longer, and he always felt threatened by Jaime’s presence any time he was near Castle Leoch (Jaime did spend a lot of time at Castle Leoch as a child and Dougal was his foster father but that was when he was a child and not capable of becoming the tanist). And Dougal is, as we have seen, ruthless and probably not above killing Jaime to secure his own position. Claire still questions the wisdom of Jaime being anywhere near the castle, but she’s forgotten Jaime has a price on his head and there was no other safe place for him. If not for her, Jaime would have been out of the way in the stable, staying there until the Gathering was over and the danger of being forced to take the Oath had passed.

"Oh God, this is all my fault"  Claire

“Oh God, this is all my fault” Claire

You can see the wheels turning in his brain trying to figure a way out of this mess

You can see the wheels turning in his brain trying to figure a way out of this mess

While Claire gets all this explained to her and Jaime waits in the line of oath takers looking positively scared, Dougal enters the Hall rubbing his sore head and stands beside Colum. Thankfully Jaime is pretty damn smart. He refuses the oath and says he’s pledged to the name that he bears but he pledges his obedience to Colum as kinsman and Laird so long as he is on McKenzie lands. After a moment of tense silence Colum accepts the vow and offers the quaich to Jaime who drains it in one long draught. Everyone seems happy except for Laoghaire because if Jaime had become part of the clan, she could marry him. But since he rejected it, the odds of her father ever consenting to the match just evaporated. Jaime leaves the Hall intact with Murtagh.

It's just a pig hunt!

It’s just a pig hunt!

The next day as another modern song plays in the background we see Claire joining the boar hunt. Scoffing at the danger, Claire enters the forest and while rushing to the aid of an injured man ends up face to face with one of the creatures. Thanks to Dougal, who is a fair shot, she lives to tell the tale. Trying to recover from the shock, she tries to help a badly injured man, named Geordie, only to realize that she couldn’t save him. So she stays there to comfort him while Dougal holds Geordie in his arms as the poor man bleeds to death. This is an important bonding experience between Dougal and Claire that serves a number of functions including once again proving her worth to the clan and that Dougal still doesn’t know enough about her.

Geordie lays dying

Geordie lays dying

The next scene was lots of fun to watch but wasn’t in the books. Coming back to the Castle with Geordie’s body and the dead boar, Dougal spots Jaime and several others playing a game of Shinty (which is akin to the Irish game of Hurling if that clears it up for you at all). You can just see the pent up frustration and anger in Dougal’s face as he rips off his gear and rushes into the game like a man with a mission.

Shinty, like Hurling, whacking a leather ball with a curved stick

Shinty, like Hurling, whacking a leather ball with a curved stick

Frustrated and angry, Dougal is ready to do damage

Frustrated and angry, Dougal is ready to do damage

I understand why Dougal is frustrated having just lost his friend but it took me a while to figure out why he’s so mad at the guys playing the game. It occurred to me that maybe he’s angry because they’re goofing off instead of being on the hunt and providing for the castle. Maybe he felt his friend might not have died if these other men had joined in the hunt or maybe he wished it had been Jaime who was dead and not his friend Geordie. Or just maybe he was simply letting off some steam. Whatever his motivation, Dougal proceeds to enter the game, knocks out several players and then basically tries to beat the crap out of Jaime.

 "I taught you this game, lad"  Dougal

“I taught you this game, lad” Dougal

I laughed my butt off when Murtagh catches Angus about to step in and help Dougal cheat so he takes his Shinty stick and gives Angus’ “wee ones” a good scrape with the admonishment to “play fair”. Jaime for the most part is trying his best not to hit or hurt his uncle but Dougal shows no such compunction, repeatedly hitting Jaime with his stick. All the spectators can see Jaime taking the beating without backing off (just like he did when he took Laoghaire’s punishment in the Hall) and without being disrepectful to his uncle until he’s had enough of it. Then he gets under Dougal with his Shinty stick and lifts Dougal straight up and over onto his back.  Jaime, ever the good sportsman helps Dougal up, but it’s clear that whatever is between them is still brewing.

Booyah!  Ye hit me one too many times old man

Booyah! Ye hit me one too many times old man

Clearly this ain't over between them

Clearly this ain’t over between them

Remember what I said about the clan picking the most vigorous and qualified man? Well, Jaime has shown on several occasions that he’s not only the bigger man (psychologically speaking) than Dougal but he’s also shown that he’s the better man and could best Dougal in a fight. So Dougal will stay wary of Jaime as a contender for control of the clan McKenzie.

Finally back in her surgery Dougal talks to Claire and confirms what he already knows to be true–that Claire has seen many men die by violence. He thanks her for trying to help Geordie and for comforting him in his final moments. This surprises Claire and then he surprises her again by telling her that he’s taking her out on a trip around McKenzie lands to collect the rents from tenants who couldn’t make it to the Gathering. He says he wants her along because of her healing skills and because she’s good under stress. One can assume that there will be illegal and dangerous activities in the offing besides just avoiding the Black Watch like cattle rustling and Jacobite recruitment. Claire might not be thinking of all that because she is so excited about getting closer to her goal of Craig Na Dun and returning home to Frank. But Dougal has other motivations for taking her “on the road” as well that will play out in the coming episodes. The final scene is them riding off at first light with Jaime in front of Claire and Murtagh, turning to look back.

Claire hopes to be leaving Castle Leoch for good

Claire hopes to be leaving Castle Leoch for good

Each episode just gets better in my opinion and makes me eager for next week’s installment.

There is this great website that has traditional Scottish dishes taken from and inspired by The Outlander book series, called the Outlander Kitchen.  The Chef & Food Writer Theresa Carle-Sanders recommends meals to be cooked for each episode and this week’s recipe was Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cider Sauce, Neeps and Tatties.  It sounded delish so I thought I would try it.  I asked Himself twice if he wanted the Neeps and he said no both times.  Then while we were eating he asked me why I didn’t make the Neeps.  Sigh…..  Since we needed a veggie, I steamed some artichoke hearts and added butter and lemon.  Certainly not traditional Scottish fair but clearly I’m not a traditionalist.

Here’s the result.  I had the entire plate in the original photo but Himself could not help but mention that my presentation wasn’t any good.  My response was, “What the fuck, does this look like The Four Seasons to you?!”

Roasted Tenderloin

Roasted Tenderloin

So I just focused on the tenderloin…I’m sure you know what mashed potatos and artchoke hearts look like anyway.  You will also notice that the cider sauce is missing from the photo and that’s because I forgot it until we were sitting down to eat.

I ate a few bites of the meat and thought, “meh, nothing special, a little too salty” and then remembered the sauce.  Once we put the sauce on the meat it was terrific. So to prove I made the sauce, here it is in the pan.

Apple Cider Sauce

Apple Cider Sauce

Himself didn’t like the thinness of the sauce but  liked the flavor.  It was made per the directions.  Using a cup of apple cider and 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar it said to reduce to half.  I suppose one could make it thicker but that would make it more like a gravy sauce and it’s not supposed to be that way.  I suggest you leave it as is because it’s wonderful IMHO.

Ultimately I highly recommend the tenderloin but I would reduce the salt in the rub.  The potatoes were nothing special and I would jazz those up with garlic and/or cream cheese next time.  She also recommended making an Atholl Brose, which I did not do but plan to in future. And speaking of atholls, we have a running joke in our family about them.   The world is full of atholls, really.

My review of “The Way Out”, Outlander Episode 3 Season 1. If you haven’t read the books, then this is full of spoilers and if you don’t want to know anything about the show before seeing it, then don’t read it!!!!

!!!!!OUTLANDER SPOILERS!!!!!!

 

Before I get into what happened, I wanted to note that I just can’t say enough about the quality of the cinematography, the scenery, the costumes and even props. Like Claire’s medicine box–it’s looks like a real antique and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was. Okay, enough with the gushing.

"Woe betide the man who stands between you and what you set your mind upon." Frank

“Woe betide the man who stands between you and what you set your mind upon.” Frank

The episode opened with a 1940’s scene with Frank and Claire. He’s sending her off to the Front in France at the train station. I liked this addition. It demonstrates, again, their love, what she’s missing, and her determination to get home. It also reveals a VERY important personality characteristic of Claire–she’s makes mules look positively submissive. Frank loves this part of her and we know Jaime will too. After all in the previous episode didn’t Jaime say (about the white mare Claire startled in the paddock) that ‘she’s just spirited and that’s no a bad thing’.We’re treated again to the insane dressing procedures of the 17th Century–copious amounts of cold water being poured over your head in a cold ass room while you’re standing there butt naked. But that’s a side note really.  We see here that Mrs. Fitz has been growing fond of Claire. So the next bit threw me a bit.

They showed a weird little vignette of Claire imagining what it would be like if she told Mrs. Fitz the truth because in this reverie, Mrs. Fitz accuses Claire of being a witch and basically freaks out. Claire comes to her senses though and realizes there is no way she can tell anyone, not even Mrs. Fitz, about her trip through the stones.

Claire settles into her new surgery in hopes of making a good impression on the McKenzie brothers in hopes of getting out of Castle Leoch. I loved seeing the medical box that Claire discovers that the late and not so great Beaton left behind. As a book reader you might remember that Claire will keep this with her for years to come. I always imagined it to be quite utilitarian looking but when it’s all closed up it looks quite appealing–like a finely made piece of furniture.

Claire's wee case

Claire’s wee case

Inside detail of case lid

Inside detail of case lid

Anyway, with everything being so unfamiliar, working with medicines and healing people is familiar to Claire so it’s a great comfort to her. The ONLY thing I didn’t like about this scene is that I still don’t like the way she says “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ”. I don’t know if it’s because she’s saying “roohsevelt” instead of “rosevelt” or if it’s where she puts the emphasis. In any case, it pulls me out of the story every time I hear it. I know, I know, it’s a nitpick.

The guards, Rupert and Angus, have begun to let down their guard and Claire notices. She’s gearing up to leave. But Claire can’t help getting involved when people fall ill. So she gets caught up in trying to figure out the death of a young boy and the illness of another (Mrs. Fitz’ own nephew). Her curiosity and modern sensibility become inflamed whe she hears the story of how the boys went to the “Black Kirk” and became possessed .

After talking to Mrs. Fitz she is summoned to Colum’s study where he asks her to massage his legs to ease his pain. Claire, once again, shows her superior knowledge by offerring to massage the base of his spine instead and she does indeed help him a great deal. We get our first good butt shot and it’s Colum hairy arse. Nothing sexual about it at all. LOL Claire notices while talking to Colum that even he, a well read man and presumably educated, also believes the boys illnesses are the Devil’s work. As a result of her helping Colum, he invites her to Hall that night to hear the Welsh bard he’s employed.

So later as she is entering the Hall, Dougal catches her at the entrance to the Hall and basically says he knows what she’s up to, being all nice and helpful all of a sudden.

"Seems the feral cat we picked up on the road is trying to pull in her claws" Dougal

“Seems the feral cat we picked up on the road is trying to pull in her claws” Dougal

Dougal could learn something from Claire–you get more flies with honey than vinegar. Next comes a very memorable scene from the first book. This is where Laoghaire sits nexts to Claire and they exchange friendly words. And then Jaime comes in and sits in between them and proceeds to hurt Laoghaire’s feelings. Jaime comes across in the show (and it’s this way in the books as well) as being unaware of how he affects women, naive almost. Jaime’s comments are meant to be self-deprecatory but end up offending Laoghaire. Jaime then escorts Claire back to her room under the pretense of her changing his dressing leaving a jealous Laoghaire behind. Instead he reveals that he wanted to help Claire since she was clearly tipsy (more of Colum’s wine) and make sure she got back to the surgery okay. Then we get their first overt verbal flirting, which is cute. But the cutesy talk turns serious when he reveals that he doesn’t mind her seeing his back and why that’s important–it’s a very personal and intimate thing to know what he’s been through. This soon turns into romance novel smoldering when she opens his shirt to examine the bullet wound in his trapezius. Claire’s fighting the attraction hard as evidenced as the big sigh she lets out after Jaime leaves the room.

Angus provides comic relief before and after Claire meets Geillis in the garden to harvest herbs and berries. While discussing the boys’ illness Claire doesn’t give in to Geillis hints about magic and things happening beyond their ken. Geillis is being really conniving trying to get information out of Claire and as book readers we know why. I think Geillis’ questionning of Claire comes across much clearer on the show than it did in the books. Of course, the book has the leisure to be more circumspect about such things whereas a one hour tv show does not. Anyway, Geillis tells Claire to stay away from the remaining sick boy but remember my comparison to mules earlier? Well, she tromps off right away to get a look at Mrs. Fitz’ sick nephew. Claire still doesn’t understand what she’s about to put her foot into.

She examines the boy in Mrs. Fitz’ sister’s house and determines that it’s probably poisoning and not illness at all. Claire gets to meet Father Bain, a frothing at the mouth Catholic priest, who starts to excorcise the poor boy. The actor who plays Bain is a little too over the top for my tastes but he certainly comes across as villanous, which is exactly how we need to see him. Claire is then very disappointed that Mrs. Fitz will let her take over the boy’s care instead of the priest. She still hasn’t got it. Claire can’t understand why her logic can’t overcome their superstitions.

Back at the castle she sees Jamie snogging with Laoghaire and it makes her feel bad, as least insofar as we can tell by her expression So later that night Claire teases Jaime at the table and he doesn’t take it well. He spills his drink on Murtagh sitting next to him. In the book Auld Alec was there and he got on Jaime’s case really bad about being klutzy and working with the wrong horse, etc. But he was cut out of the dinner scene and there is only Jaime, Murtagh and Claire with a bunch of non-named people around them. Jaime leaves in a bit of a huff and Murtagh scolds Clair.

Is this jealousy, longing, or wee bit of both?

Is this jealousy, longing, or wee bit of both?

"He needs a woman, not a lassie. And Laoghaire will be a girl until she's fifty. I've been around long enough to ken the difference very well. And so do you....Mistress."  Murtagh

“He needs a woman, not a lassie. And Laoghaire will be a girl until she’s fifty. I’ve been around long enough to ken the difference very well. And so do you….Mistress.” Murtagh

Claire admits to herself that she’s jealous but she says it’s because she misses her husband. Truth be told, she misses her husband AND she’s also jealous of Laoghaire. She’s just not ready to admit it yet.

The flatulent fiscal, Geillis' husband

The flatulent fiscal, Geillis’ husband

The next day Dougal escorts Claire to Geillis’ house in town where Geillis continues to probe how much Claire believes in magic and how much she knows about herbal cures. She does, however, do Claire the favor of warning her about Father Bain and his disturbingly extreme interpretation of Original Sin. Geillis’ conversational interrogation of Claire gets interrupted, quite fortuitously a few times. First by a ruckus outside, then by the entrance of her flatulant husband and then by more ruckus outside where a young boy is having his ear nailed to the pillory for stealing two bannocks (equivalent of stealing two biscuits). Father Bain wanted the boy’s hand chopped off but by 1700 standards, the child got off lightly.Claire is, of course, properly disgusted with such justice and doesn’t hesitate to express that to Geillis. Finally, just as Geillis is going to ply Claire with drink Jaime arrives to escort her back to the castle. The fiscal’s farting was gross but funny.
Although I’ve read other reviews where they decidedly didn’t like it. It’s in the books so at least it’s true to the story–funny or not. The other thing about this scene is we notice for the first time the develpment of non-verbal communication between Jaime and Claire. She gives him a look that says please get me out of Geillis clutches and Jaime obliges. Geillis is not best pleased about losing another opportunity to find out more information about Claire. Non-book readers are surely wondering why she’s pressing Claire so much. Before they leave the village Claire engages his assistance again and again with little verbal communication. All she has to do is ask him, “Your fingers, they’re quite strong I suppose?” (aye) She gets Jaime to rescue the boy by pulling the nail out of the boy’s ear so he won’t have to rip it off himself.Claire, as we will see throughout the series, asks a lot of Jaime.

"Ye wouldna expect me to be less bold than a wee sassanach lassie, would ye?" Jaime

“Ye wouldna expect me to be less bold than a wee sassanach lassie, would ye?” Jaime

"I smell the vapors of Hell on you" Father Bain

“I smell the vapors of Hell on you” Father Bain

Right after “rescuing” the boy, she asks him to help her by taking her to the Black Kirk.  This is another good scene that IIRC was not in the books. Claire slips up when she mentions Germany, which didn’t exist at the time. Jaime knew it as “Prussia”. This scene serves to once again remind Claire that education and logic cannot completely overcome superstition, not even someone with as an open mind as Jaime has. Claire rushes off to save the sick boy and makes a lifelong friend in Mrs. Fitz but makes a very dangerous enemy of Father Bain.
This story is made to replace a story that did occur in the books where Claire warned Father Bain that if he didn’t let her treat his own injured leg that it would fester. It did later fester and Father Bain later claimed she cursed him causing it to fester. Anyway, this new storyline fits perfectly and serves the same purpose. Plus it gives us a couple of bonus scenes between Jaime and Claire, which is always good! Another scene that follows is Jaime and Claire discussing the not-so-good Father. Jaime shows that while he doesn’t share the Father’s beliefs he understands why the man thinks the way he does. This goes to show that Jaime is smarter than the average bear (which they’ve shown time and again in lots of subtle ways) and that he is probably a bit wiser and empathic than Claire is in some ways.Claire is depressed to find that her saving the boy has actually made her more valuable to the McKenzie brothers so they were even less likely to let her go. Once again, Claire resorts to Colum’s Rhenish wine to drown her sorrows (I’m sensing a trend here that I didn’t when I read the books–when stressed, sad, or depressed Claire tends to drink and retreat). Fortunately for her, she appears in Hall to hear the bard sing. Jaime is there and drags her to a saved seat beside him.

Fun Fact: Sam Heughan (Jaime) likes the horses he rides in the show a lot. I think the horse in this scene is his favorite--"Sleepy". He has mentioned him in interviews and on his Twitter account. Another horse that he rides in the show is a bit more energetic and tends to drool on him and bite him. The nippy horse's name is Pinocchio

Fun Fact: Sam Heughan (Jaime) likes the horses he rides in the show a lot. I think the horse in this scene is his favorite–“Sleepy”. He has mentioned him in interviews and on his Twitter account. Another horse that he rides in the show is a bit more energetic and tends to drool on him and bite him. The nippy horse’s name is Pinocchio

He’s cute in this scene, child-like in his enthusiasm. While the bard sings, Jaime interprets for her. It’s an old folk song that talks about a woman who went through the stones to a different place where she lived for a time. And then the woman was able to come back through the stones to her original home. This helps Claire’s mood tremendously and she decides that it may be possible to return to Frank after all. So she decides she’s going to try to escape the castle or die trying.

This really sets up next week’s pivotal episode nicely. When she tries to escape next week, Jaime’s loyalty to his uncles and feelings for her will come into direct conflict.  There will be a lot more action and tension next week and I can’t wait!!!!

Overall, another great episode and the series is meeting and exceeding my expectations.