Written by Diana Gabaldon, Ronald D. Moore, and Matthew B. Roberts
Directed by Brian Kelly
While most of this episode involves The Gathering of Clans, it also shows how little Claire knows about the time she is currently living in. This is really a common theme throughout the series. Claire doesn’t seem to understand the differences between the 20th century and the 18th century and how it is so much more dangerous for women in that earlier time.
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is in full-on escape mode as the episode opens. She’s devising ways to mark a path away from the castle by playing with the children and conveniently “losing” things to mark the way. Claire goes through the motions at the castle, appearing to be planning to stay, all the while plotting to escape. When everyone is making their oaths of allegiance to the MacKenzies, Claire anticipates that she will be able to make her escape and journey to Craigh na Dun.
Geillis (Lotte Verbeek) visits to bring Claire the herbs she needs. She sees some signs of Claire’s plotting and cautions her a bit about being alone in the Highlands. While they talk, Geillis prods Claire about her husband. Geillis seems to know something, not just about what Claire is up to, but also where she is really from.
Mrs. Fitz (Annette Badland) brings Claire to the Gathering where the men are swearing their allegiance to Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis). She tries to leave but Angus (Stephen Walters) tracks her down. She gives him the wine with a sedative in it and tells him to share it while she returns to her surgery. As she starts to leave, she is grabbed by clansmen in the castle. Dougal (Graham McTavish) comes to her rescue, but he’s drunk as well and also tries to have his way with her. She hits him over the head.
In the stables, she encounters Jamie (Sam Heughan). He has an idea what she’s up to and stops her, warning her that there are more guards out tonight than normal. Again, the two bond. However, Jamie has been hiding in the stables for a reason. He is a laird himself, albeit a displaced one. He cannot pledge his fealty to the MacKenzies without creating a conflict between him and Dougal for succession in the Clan. As he’s helping Claire back to the castle, they encounter some of the men and he’s forced to go before Colum and Dougal. Jamie is clever, and manages to keep his head and not offend.
The next day is the boar hunt. Claire comes along as a healer, and soon is needed. One man is gored on his leg, and she’s treating him when she hears another man cry out. As she attempts to locate him, the boar comes after her, but Dougal shoots it dead. Dougal finds the injured man, but Claire can’t do anything for him. Dougal is impressed with how Claire handles herself and cares for the man while he dies. He thanks Claire personally and tells her she’s coming on the road with him and others to visit the tenants on the MacKenzie lands and collect the rents. Jamie is also among those traveling. Claire vows to look for an opportunity to escape from them and get to Craigh na Dun.
Even with all that happens here, Claire is still thinking about going back to her own time. Geillis is suspicious and tries to warn her repeatedly about being on her own in the Highlands, but Claire ignores it. This is a theme throughout the books as when she is with Jamie later on, he’s always telling her that if anything happens to him, she has to go back to her own time. She still seems just as oblivious then to the fact that his presence protects her from harm (most of the time). Claire can be forgiven a bit here because she’s still pining for Frank and wants to get back to him. That desire is overriding good sense in some aspects.
Claire gives Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) a fake love potion with the intention that she’s not going to stay. She’s not interested in Jamie at all; the two bond as friends, although Jamie might be sensing the possibility of something more. Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) had made the statement previously that Jamie needs a woman, not a girl. The men who are leaders do seem to gravitate to strong women as wives. Colum’s wife Letitia (Aislin McGuckin) is most definitely a strong woman, and it sounds like Jamie’s mother was too. We don’t know what Dougal’s wife is like, but I would hazard a guess that she is not a strong woman, which is why Dougal is here with Colum and she is not. It’s also why Dougal gravitates to Geillis, although that hasn’t been made known yet. Geillis can put on an act, but as we will learn, she is more than capable of taking care of herself.
Diana Gabaldon makes a cameo here as Glenna during the Gathering. It is fun to see her in this, if only for a brief moment. The imagery of the castle and the celebration is beautiful. The attention to detail of the 18th century goes a long way to make this feel like I was watching events from almost 300 years ago. The costuming is magnificent, even if the materials are likely cleaner than they were back then. Dresses whose hems dragged on the ground almost always had dirt along the bottom and were cleaned without modern detergent. They are beautiful and brilliant to behold here though.
The castle setting and the small town next to it are also depicted well. I had to wonder a bit who really was in charge here -Colum MacKenzie or the local priest. This will also be questioned in the future. If the hierarchy was explained in the book, I don’t remember, but it certainly isn’t explained here. Perhaps I will listen to the audiobook again after I finish the current book I’m listening to. The series prompts many people to visit Scotland, and they are routinely disappointed by the fact that a lot of this is beautified for the show and the locations don’t look as nice as they appear on the screen.
The character development here is good. It moves the story forward and creates the bond between Jamie and Claire so it’s easy to see how their later relationship develops. The acting is terrific and it’s well-paced to hold the viewer’s interest. It’s not completely faithful to the books, but overall it does a great job with the material..
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