If you could change history, would you? What if changing history meant you could protect strangers who have become friends? Should you?
This is the dilemma that Claire is now up against. She knows how badly the Battle of Culloden will end for the Scots; she has seen the MacKenzie grave marker on the moor; she understands that these brave men will die in vain. But, how can she tell them without telling them? She can’t. This dilemma is one example of an episode filled with change and conflicting loyalties.
Angus has been dogging Claire for as long as she has been in this time. He is a bit of a brute and he takes his job as guard seriously, to the point of drawing a knife on Claire. Yet, when her honor is called into question, he is the first one to throw a punch.
The scene at the inn made me smile. It’s all right for the MacKenzie clan to call Claire anything they want, to treat her any way they want. Yet, if an outsider besmirches her honor, they will fly to her defense. What a perfect definition of family.
As the head of this family on the road, we learn more about Dougal. For one thing, he is the ultimate politician. He is able to drum up support for his cause by buying drinks, slapping backs, and kissing babies. He’s able to talk the people around to his point of view. Yes, Jamie’s back helps, but I get the feeling that Dougal would do just as well without that piece of evidence.
Colum may be the laird, but Dougal is an outstanding leader. He is able to control his men with a look and he is able to read people exceptionally well. Dougal is fiercely proud and fiercely committed to his cause. It is interesting that he will not allow one family to keep its goat even though they need its milk. Rents are due and that is just the way it is.
Later, however, when the group comes across a village in which the English soldiers have taken everything, rents are forgiven and Dougal feeds the people there with fare he has collected from others. Cynically, he may be doing this to collect more money for the cause, but it is an interesting dichotomy in this man.
Through all this, Claire is still struggling to find her place. She may have longed to leave Castle Leoch, but I’m not sure this road trip is any better. The only woman, she is subjected to the worst of male bonding. The men aren’t going out of their way to make life easier for her. They speak Gaelic almost exclusively which is an effective way to exclude her and reinforce the fact that she is an outsider.
Because of this exclusion, Claire leaps to all the wrong conclusions. Neither Ned nor Dougal attempt to explain themselves to her; they allow her to believe the worst. At first I was puzzled by this, but then I realized why. They still believe she may be an English spy. Much better she believes that Dougal is a thief than that he is raising money to fight the English.
Claire finally realizes what is happening around her and her attitude shifts immediately. At the beginning of the series, Claire is bored with history and listens to Frank’s stories because she loves him, not because she is particularly enamored with it all. Now, however, she knows the men who will lie under that moor and what for her has been a story has now become real and immediate. She does not want these men to give up their lives for nothing.
As Claire grows closer to these men, there is one who is truly beginning to stand apart from the rest. Jamie has her back, talking Angus down. I loved the way he spoke to her, telling her the hard truth in a hard tone. Although the other clansmen speak to her in this way, it is Jamie to whom she listens. As he walks away from her, Claire realizes she may have gone too far and her face is filled with regret.
Later, she overhears Jamie and Dougal arguing and witnesses Jamie taking out his anger and frustration on a tree. Although a small scene, it succeeded in showing us that these two are beginning to truly understand the other. He, again, tells her what he believes; she smiles at him to let him know that she gets it.
The scene where Claire discovers Jamie sleeping outside her door is one of the most memorable from the book. It is one that I was looking forward to seeing on screen and it didn’t disappoint. Claire’s offer of warmth and the shocked look on Jamie’s face were beautifully played. He is not immune to her, either.
The end was the perfect cliffhanger. Salvation is at hand. All Claire has to do is nod her head yes and she will be free of these men who have made her life so difficult over the past months. Now, however, she has grown to care about them and to respect them. She saw those bodies on the moor and I can’t believe she wants the same for “her” clan. We’ll see.
Another relatively slow episode, but the shifting attitudes and small shipping moments made it a great deal of fun. Three out of four barrels of urine used on wool. Yuck.
Bits and Pieces:
— I want to avoid spoilers for those who have not read the book. To discuss differences between the book and the show, foreshadowing, or anything else that might spoil the story, head over to my review of the novel.
— This episode allows the cinematographer room to create. Scotland is truly stunning; the locations used are among the most beautiful. The opening shot of Claire standing by the loch is breathtaking.
— Claire’s white cuffs and muff have stayed remarkably clean after weeks on the road.
— About two thirds of the way through the episode, Claire is sitting by the fire wrapped in a shawl made from the MacKenzie tartan. It’s a subtle but effective way to show that she is becoming a member of their clan, not just an honored guest.
— Jamie, good Catholic boy that he is, has never learned the correct way to cross himself.
— Culloden Moor is now a historic site maintained by the National Trust. As someone who spent an afternoon wandering around on it, I’m here to tell you that the place is haunted. I have rarely been so affected by a field.
Ned: “I must say, you got a good head on your shoulders and a tongue for argument as well. You’d make a fine advocate yerself. It’s a pity they don’t allow women to practice law.”
Claire: “Hmm. Not yet.”
Ned: “Ah, it’ll be a few centuries before that happens.”
Claire: “Only two.”
Jamie: “A man has to choose what’s worth fighting for.”
Jamie: “I’ll be right here.”
Claire: “Any excuse for a fight.”
Murtagh: “You were the excuse.”
Murtagh: “It was your honor we were defending. The lout called you a whore. You’re a guest of the MacKenzie. We can insult you, but God help any other man that does.”
Jeremy: “Tell me, madam. Are you here by your own choice?”
The podcasts are beginning to become more of the same every week. Moore is again joined by Dresbach who, again, adds very little. As I said before, I understand that the podcasts are probably much easier when two people can converse rather than one person talking throughout. However, there are many people involved in the production and I would like to hear from some others.
The part that most annoyed me was the conversation during the scene where Claire discovers Jamie outside her door. Dresbach blathered on about how difficult it had been to decide how many outfits Claire should take on the road and what they should be. Seriously? This is a huge shipping moment, both here and in the book. Let’s talk about that, please.
ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.