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Outlander: The Devil's Mark

"I trust you. I trust your word, your heart. And, I trust there is a truth between us."

Outlander is a show that is genre-busting. It has drama and comedy; romance and adventure; heroes and villains. This week, it added legal procedural to the mix. It worked. Wow, did it work.

The courtroom drama was intense and frightening. In real danger of being burned alive, so many things that at the time seemed harmless (the love potion, young Thomas Baxter's illness, the baby in the woods), became fodder for the prosecution. Ned Gowan was brilliant, but even he knew when he was beaten. The twist with Father Bain appearing to be on Claire's side, but knowing that the people would turn against her, was unexpected and made me gasp.

More compelling, however, were the quieter moments between Claire and Geillis. As their fate draws closer to the inevitable, the truth begins to emerge. And, what a reveal it is. Geillis is from 1968 – even further out than Claire.

What makes this reveal so exciting in terms of the story is that it fundamentally changes everything. While Claire came through by accident, Geillis did not. She purposely came through to change history. Does this mean that there are other time travelers around? Could Claire, if she chose, bounce back and forth between her two worlds? If she can, will she?

She won't. At least, she won't right now. The second part of this episode, while much quieter and more intimate than the first, was just as dramatic and exciting. Claire finally tells Jamie the truth.

I loved his reaction. Instead of thinking his wife has completely lost her mind, he believes her. Not only does he believe her, he takes her to the stones so that she can go home. Jamie's grief as he says goodbye to Claire was hard to watch. I cried through it and silently begged Claire to either stay or take him with her.

She stayed, much to my relief. But again, her staying has now changed the story a great deal. Claire has chosen to stay; she has chosen to remain with Jamie; she has chosen to be the lady of Lallybroch. Everything that has happened up to now happened because of something she hadn't meant to occur. Everything that happens moving forward, Claire will have a level of responsibility for.

I can't finish this review without praising the acting in this hour. Caitriona Balfe played just about every emotion there is, and did it beautifully. As she says goodbye to Jamie, she can't look at him. A wonderful choice that said more than any words.

Sam Heughan managed to make Jamie's choice to let Claire go heartbreaking. When she comes back at the end, his face is tear-stained and he is obviously emotionally exhausted. Yet, her coming back brings him to tears again.

The performer of the week, however, was Lotte Verbeek. She managed to make Geillis a fascinating character that I hope we will see again. Her defense of Claire and her reveal of the scar were magical moments. Verbeek deserves to be nominated for every award there is this year. She won't be, but she should be.

In a single hour, we saw the two most important relationships Claire has formed in Scotland change dramatically. The best episode of a show that has had few missteps. If I had to guess, this will be the episode I watch again and again between seasons.

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.

— The opening shot of the thousands of birds in flight was one of the most visually arresting things I have seen in a long time.

— If Jamie could return, why couldn't Dougal? And, how much did Colum know about what was happening to Claire?

— Claire was born in 1918. In 1945, she would have been 27 years old. Do we know how old Jamie is?

— The shot of Claire looking at her rings was a brilliant way to show her indecision about which life to choose.


Claire: "Is that what I think it is?"
Geillis: "Well, it's not a maypole, Claire."

Claire: "As I looked around at these good people, I wondered what made them so ready to watch us burn."

Claire: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
Geillis: "Nicely put."
Claire: "Isn't it just?"

Claire: "If you really are a witch, now would be the perfect time to use your powers."
Geillis: "Aye. Same to you, my friend."

Geillis: "I think it's possible."
Claire: "What?"
Geillis: "1968."

Jamie: "Are you a witch?"
Claire: "Are you serious?"

Claire: "Do you really believe me?"
Jamie: "Aye. I believe you, Sassenach. Although, it would have been a good deal easier if you'd only been a witch."


Once again, Moore is joined by the writer of the episode, Toni Graphia. For such a great episode, the podcast is a bit run of the mill. It's not bad; it's just there. No great discussions or reveals.

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.


  1. This episode was perfect, simply perfect. I read Outlander during the hiatus (I'm now halfway through Voyager), and everything that happened during this episode was pretty much exactly how I had envisionned it while reading the book. And my expectations were crazy high.

    Anyway, I don't want to talk about the book too much here, but of course, I knew what was going to happen, which made it even more impressive how they managed to put so much tension and drama throughout the episode. It was so, so well done. The actors were also amazing, even more so than usual, I thought.

    I'm not sure I would call it my favorite episode of the season so far (The Wedding is really hard to beat!), but I do think it was the best. If that makes any sense.

  2. Agree with Vero and Chris completely. I will even say it is the best yet as good as "The Wedding" was.

    I have a copy of the first book, but I'm waiting to read it for the first time until this season is over. So all of this is hitting me for the first time.

    And boy did it hit me! I was like a pinball in a machine riding on an emotional roller coaster as Geillis is my favorite character after Claire. And they were both in "The Hole" together! Those scenes were just off the charts! And when she showed her vacination scar, looked at Claire and shouted "1968!" every hair on my body stood up and saluted, I gasped, and shouted out loud: "Oh my god! She's one of us!" I had always suspected that Geillis knew about Claire and the stones and maybe had even come through herself, but that she deliberately came back in time to aid the Jacobite cause was stunning.

    1968 was the perfect year too. People her age at that time were idealistic enough and crazy enough to jump back in time for a cause. It's just a damn shame though that she missed out on The Beatle's White Album. ,)

  3. What great comments!

    Vero -- I love "the Wedding" as well, but I liked this one better as I liked watching the two women interact. I knew what was coming as well, but was concerned about how far off course Moore & Co. would go. I thought the reveal was actually better than in the book. Much more dramatic in any event.

    milo -- I love your idea about 1968 being the perfect year. I hadn't thought of it that way, but you are so right about the times. t's just a damn shame though that she missed out on The Beatle's White Album may be my favorite comment I've ever had on one of my posts. I laughed out loud.

    Thanks again for such great comments.

  4. On my second watch, I realized that Geillis' exclamation about going to a "f***ing barbeque" was meant as a sign. Jamie didn't know what f***ing meant last episode. It blew my mind a little.

    Unless I'm reaching too far... Which happens.

    1. They probably also didn't have barbeques - that's just how they cook.

  5. As much as I hate witchcraft episodes, they hit this one out of the park. If you're watching this first season, knowing this is going to happen, it's so obvious that Geillis suspects Claire is a time traveler and is trying to get her to admit it. This is my second time through, and this time I noticed one of the examiners yelling that Geillis is with child. Meaning they're probably not going to burn her. Yet.

    Was Colum trying to get rid of both women in order to keep control over both Dougal and Jamie? If so, fie on him.

    The second half of this episode made my shippy heart go pitter pat. She told him everything, and he believed her. He told her all about Lallybroch, but then he took her to the stones so that she could go home to Frank, an incredible gesture of unselfish love. How could she possibly leave a man like that?

    And I agree -- the acting was top notch. From everyone, but especially our two leads.

  6. I didn't expect to like this one. I'd been expecting Claire to be accused of witchcraft ever since her run-in with the priest, and when she gave the charm to Laoghaire, I felt it was an out-of-character action that was included just for ammunition to be used later. She's been openly dismissive of the supernatural throughout to the point of being a flat earth atheist: you'd think that after having traveled through time she might be willing to credit some beliefs in the supernatural.

    I should have had more faith in the storytelling. The show has surprised me repeatedly throoughout, so I should have realized the trial wouldn't play out as predictably as I feared. The priest's devious testimony caught me completely off guard. And though Geillis is a murderer, she was a faithful friend in the end. I had wondered if Geillis guessed Claire was from the future, but it never occurred to me she could be as well.

    Something else I liked is that the episode had a singular focus. The last couple of episodes have seemed a bit hurried and clumsy, with "Chekhov's gun" elements introduced only minutes before being used. Claire gets taught to use a knife and kills a man with one almost immediately afterward. We learn Dougal is married only to have his wife fridged a few minutes later. I enjoyed the return to the show taking its time rather again, rather than racing from one plot point to the next.

  7. magritte, I actively dislike dramatized witchcraft trials, but this one is just so good that this is my favorite season one episode.

  8. Magritte, "flat earth atheist" is a delightful phrase.

  9. Josie, sadly it's not mine. https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist


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