As "Outlander" continued on Starz on Saturday night, Claire Beauchamp (Caitriona Balfe) found out that trust isn't a luxury afforded to a Sassenach in the Highlands of Scotland in 1743 – with one exception.
Here's how things played out in "Outlander" Season 1, Episode 2 – "Castle Leoch":
"Are ye a charmer then?" A Beaton?" – Mrs. Fitzgibbons
Meeting The Residents Of Castle Leoch
Just a few days before (or rather two centuries from now), Claire visited Castle Leoch with husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) and poked around its dark, crumbling and desolate remains. Today though, back in time, things are bustling in this MacKenzie Clan hub when Claire finally arrives after several days on horseback with Jamie (Sam Heughan).
Swinging her leg over the horse's mane, Claire hops down to the ground and watches as a man we'll come to know as Old Alec (Liam Carney) tends to the creatures. He teases Rupert (Grant O'Rourke), one of the Highlanders she traveled with, about the poor horse having to carry his weight to Leoch. Old Alec also says something in passing to Dougal about an upcoming "gathering."
"Murtagh, you look and smell like a rat that's been dragged through sheep dung," an older woman (Mrs. Fitzgibbons) who rushes over, tells Claire's traveling companion. "Gissa a kiss then," Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) replies, making the woman giggle. Her laughter stops when she spots the wet and ragged looking (and scandalously dressed) Claire. Jamie introduces her, explaining Murtagh found her and Dougal said they had to bring Claire with them. She offers to find Claire, "something to wear that's a bit more... Well... a bit more," and prepares to take Claire inside the castle.
On instinct, Claire reacts again. She can't leave Jamie! His wound needs tending to. "You mean to say you know what to do for that?" Mrs. Fitzgibbons (Annette Badland) asks, intrigued. "Are ye a charmer then?" A Beaton?" she asks. "Something like that," Claire explains. It's settled. Claire will tend to Jamie first and get proper attire later.
(Mrs. Fitz | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Television/Starz)
"Everybody calls me Mrs. Fitz. You may also," Mrs. Fitz tells Claire before leaving her alone with Jamie.
"She thought he'd kill me and perhaps, she was right." – Jamie
Claire Learns Jamie's Story
With gentle hands, Claire washes Jamie's wound and removes the blanket covering him to tend to him further. As she pulls the fabric back, she sees the young Highlander's back is scarred. Knowing what she's seen, Jamie grimaces. "The Redcoats," Jamie tells Claire. He was flogged twice in one week by Capt. Jack Randall, who Jamie said seemed pleased – and maybe even took joy – in hurting him like that. The punishment, which was given out four years ago, was the result of two charges – escaping Fort William and "obstruction."
Jamie's father was away when the Redcoats came to his home. Rushing to the house from the fields after hearing his sister Jenny's (Laura Donnelly) screams, Jamie fought two Redcoats. It was then that Capt. Randall exited the house, grabbing and holding Jenny at gunpoint. Jamie froze and surrendered. "She's bonny," Capt. Jack told Jamie. "I'll take a closer look," the Captain said, ripping Jenny's dress open in front of the men, and telling them to hold Jamie's head up to force him to look. Afterward, he flogged Jamie in front of his sister.
(Jamie and Captain Randall | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Television/Starz)
"He wanted to send a message. This is what you get when you fight back against the English," Jamie recounts to Claire as she continues to patch him up at Leoch. Capt. Randall told Jenny she could watch her brother flogged more or "go into the house and offer" the Redcoat "better entertainment." Jenny went with him. "She thought he'd kill me and perhaps, she was right," Jamie recounts to Claire, noting that when he woke up (Randall had knocked him out) he was in Redcoat custody.
Changing the subject, Jamie tells Claire she is "a kind woman with a good touch." "Your husband is a lucky man," he adds while she wraps his torso. His words take root. Claire begins to wonder (and we get a flashforward to 1945 and Frank and Reverend Wakefield finding the couple's abandoned car by Craig na Dun) what Frank must be thinking. "I'm fine. ... I was just thinking about my husband," Claire tells Jamie, trying to hide her feelings. "Is he not alive?" Jamie asks. "No, actually. He's not alive," she says, breaking down into tears. Jamie quiets her and holds her close with his other shoulder. A moment happens between them. Claire breaks the tension by getting up and apologizing. "You need not be scairt of me, nor anyone else here, so long as I'm with ye," Jamie tells Claire, warning her to take care when they are apart. She's "English in a place where that's not a pretty thing to be," he reminds her.
(Frank Randall and Reverend Wakefield | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Television/Starz)
"Now you're ready to be taken to himself." – Mrs. Fitz
Castle Leoch, Day 2: Questioning
With help from some hot broth and a warm fire, Mrs. Fitz wakes up Claire (her hair looks like its sound asleep) and dresses her in more appropriate garments. "Now you're ready to be taken to himself," Mrs. Fitz says, looking Claire over. In the doorway, Murtagh nods his head in the direction he'll be taking her.
Caged birds, books and tapestries fill the room Murtagh brings Claire to – a room that is a cluttered contrast to the rest of the castle's sparseness. Taking a peek around, Claire learns for the first time she is in November 1743, after spotting some correspondence on a table.
"I see you've met some of my friends," a man with tiny, crooked legs, says as he walks in (she later realizes he has Toulouse-Lautrec syndrome). He quickly introduces himself as Colum MacKenzie, the Laird of the castle and turns to the same business many have had with Claire since encountering her – finding out who she is. How does a woman end up wandering around Inverness in just her shift, Colum asks. Claire takes inspiration from a (flashback) conversation at a pub where Frank explained to Reverend Wakefield how to withstand interrogations. "You stick to the truth as much as humanly possible, only altering those details that have to be kept secret," he said.
She's a widow who was traveling to meet with "distant" relatives overseas in France when she and her manservant were robbed by "bandits," Claire explains. She made a run for it – leaving her things behind. In the woods, she came across Capt. Randall, who attacked her. "And you're saying that a man wearing the King's commission decided to rape a stray lady traveler... for no good reason?" Colum asks. "Is there ever a good reason for rape, Master MacKenzie," Claire replies. He apologizes and Claire realizes she has an opening, using it to ask the Laird about arranging transport back to Inverness. In five days, a man is passing by Castle Leoch. He can take her, Colum says, suggesting Claire should enjoy her time at the castle until then.
She takes his advice, going out for a walk at the top of the castle. Looking down at the courtyard, Claire smiles as she spots Dougal playing at sword fighting with a young redheaded boy.
"I'm sorry, I appear to have made an error." – Claire Beauchamp
A Dangerous Dinner
A hush comes over the hall as Claire walks in for dinner. Murtagh is the lone diner who offers her a kindly nod until she reaches Colum's table at the top. She bows and Dougal stands, offering her his seat next to his brother, Colum. As she sits down, Claire meets Colum's wife, Letitia (Aislin McGuckin). They exchange pleasantries, but then, disguised as dinner and drinks, the interrogation from Colum continues. Claire tries to change the subject -- the pronunciation of her name and how close she is to her French relatives -- by asking after "Mr. McTavish." It confuses Letitia. "She means young Jamie," Dougal explains. Jamie is at the stables with Old Alec. As the meal continues, Colum refills Claire's cup again and again.
(Colum, Claire and Dougal | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Television/Starz)
A short while later, a friendly face strolls by – the little boy from the courtyard. Claire says hello and he introduces himself as Hamish (Roderick Gilkison). "I saw you playing earlier today with your father," Claire says. "Surely you remember, Dougal? You were swinging him around," Claire adds after everyone appears either confused or stunned by her comments. She quickly realizes something is wrong. "I'm sorry, I appear to have made an error," Claire tells them. "I'm the son and heir of Colum MacKenzie," the boy tells her before leaving the table in a huff. Claire makes her own excuses and leaves, now fully aware they were plying her with alcohol to get her to lower her guard.
"You're a very complicated man, Mr. McTavish." -- Claire Beauchamp
More Honesty From Jamie
Claire skips breakfast in the morning to find her patient, Jamie, at the stables (she's trailed the whole way there by Rupert). The hunky Highlander is leading a horse around a ring. It's a mesmerizing sight, so much so that absentmindedly, Claire knocks some metal hanging on the fence over, spooking the horse and Jamie.
"What can I do for you Mrs. Beauchamp?" Jamie asks after composing himself. She's there to help him – she's brought lunch and new bandages. As they sit and chat, Jamie reveals there is a price on his head (10 pounds sterling). He's wanted for murder. "But, I didn't actually kill the man I'm wanted for," he explains. "You're a very complicated man, Mr. McTavish," Claire says, knowing Jamie has another story to tell.
(Claire and Jamie | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Television/Starz)
Nearly immovable and close to death after his second flogging, Jamie's friends came to his rescue, but while they were helping him escape, a Redcoat was shot. "I take it your real name's not Mr. McTavish," Claire says. It's not, and he's keeping his head down. Colum and Dougal know he is an outlaw -- they are his uncles (on his mother's side). With so much mistrust of her going around, Claire wonders why Jamie is so open. "You asked," he said, telling her he just decided to trust her.
With lunch over, Old Alec walks over and reminds Jamie there's work to be done. Jamie thanks Claire for lunch and fixing him up, and she gets up to leave. "Try not to get flogged or stabbed today. That'll be thanks enough," she tells him. "No promises, Sassenach!" he smiles.
On her way back, Claire confronts Rupert about following her. "I am but Dougal's eyes, not his head. And let me warn you mistress: These eyes won't be turning their gaze from you until the head orders me to," he says.
"I suspect you may be an English spy," Dougal tells Claire after she confronts him back at Leoch. "You havenae told the truth about who and what you are, of that I'm sure. And until I am sure of ye, I'll have you watched day and night." Claire promises him she won't be doing much until she leaves in four days, so Dougal's men will have little to report on. Hearing she's leaving comes as a surprise to Dougal, and Claire takes the moment to poke Dougal a little more, pointing out that clearly, Colum doesn't tell his brother everything.
"They Say I'm A Witch" – Geillis Duncan
A New Friend?
To stay busy, Claire heads out to the fields to help harvest, where she meets an intriguing redhead who asks if she's looking at mushrooms to "do away with" someone. "Your husband perhaps?" the woman asks. "Tell me if it works and I'll try it on mine," Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) tells Claire. Like Claire, she knows a lot about plants and their uses and it has given Geillis a reputation. "They say I'm a witch," the redhead notes. After a little small talk, Geillis reveals many folks in the village believe Claire is a "Sassenach spy." She follows up the helpful warning with an invitation. "You should come visit me some time down in the village. I have a cabinet full of potions and medicinals I wager would tickle your fancy," Geillis says, telling Claire she hopes to see her later at the hall.
"Watch it, laddie. Your uncle is up to something." -- Murtagh
That night in the hall, Claire stands next to Geillis as they watch people – in Gaelic – ask Colum to adjudicate their squabbles. There's confusion over who owns a cow, and more farming business to settle before a young, struggling girl (Nell Hudson) is dragged forward. "Her father accuses her of loose behavior," Geillis translates for Claire. The man wants the young woman punished. Shock goes through the room as Colum makes his judgment. Jamie seems particularly interested in this case and Claire watches as Murtagh tries to dissuade him from doing something. But it's no use. Jamie walks up to Colum.
"He's offering to take the girl's punishment," Geillis translates. The scared young woman runs into Mrs. Fitz's arms as Rupert steps up to give Jamie her punishment, under the watchful eye of Dougal, Colum's enforcer. "Watch it, laddie," Murtagh whispers to Jamie. "Your uncle is up to something."
Rupert punches Jamie in the gut. And again. Then, he knocks him on the back. Dougal looks down, an indication to Rupert to keep going. The next blow produces blood. Claire is outraged, but remains silent. Dougal wants the beating to continue. Rupert punches Jamie in his bad shoulder, but Dougal still won't stop it. The next one's to the face. Claire is about to jump in, but Geillis holds her back. Murtagh helps Jamie up. Walking up to Colum, Jamie bows. Colum nods his head in response. It's over and Murtagh helps him up. As the two walk out of the hall, Jamie looks over at Claire. "This way's quicker and you'll stir less gossip," Geillis tells Claire, leading her out the back way to help.
By the fire, elsewhere in the castle, Claire tends to Jamie again, and asks him why he took the young woman's punishment. "It would have shamed the lass," he explains. A concerned Mrs. Fitz brings Jamie some tea and thanks him. The young woman – Laoghaire (pronounced Leery) – is her granddaughter.
"Take that bandage off your shoulder in the next two days," Claire tells Jamie, finishing up her work. "Wouldn't it not be easier if you did it?" he asks. It would, but she's leaving tomorrow, Claire explains. Just then Laoghaire pops her head in. "I think someone would like to speak with you -- alone," Claire notes, telling Jamie goodbye. "Safe journeys to you, Claire," he says as they part.
"I believe that you have secrets Claire." – Colum MacKenzie
A Change Of Plans
It's morning and Claire couldn't be more delighted as she puts a package Mrs. Fitz prepared for her on the cart of the man who will take her to Inverness. Then, she turns around. "Colum wishes to see you," Dougal says. He leads Claire down to the room she and Frank found underneath the castle during their 1945 day trip. A shock runs through her and she takes a moment before heading in. "You have no connections with Clan Beaton, have you?" Colum asks, greeting Claire inside the room. Davie Beaton used this room as a "surgery" before he died, and now, she will too, Colum tells her.
"I believe that you have secrets, Claire. Now maybe they're the kind of secrets that every woman has that pose no threats to me, to Leoch or to the Clan Mackenzie. But until I know for sure, you will remain here as my guest," he says. "You mean as your prisoner, don't you?" Claire spits back. "Only if you try to leave," he says, heading upstairs. Dougal shuts the door. Claire walks back down into the surgery and cries.
"Outlander" continues Saturday nights at 9 PM on Starz.
-- Jolie Lash