In the last episode of Outlander, we were treated to less of Claire and Jamie's backstory and more of a look at what's in store for the future of this show. Claire's finding both the good and the bad of her future knowledge and values. Which comes as no surprise.
Even though Claire's desire to get home doesn't go away this episode, it's not the central focus. And Jamie's escaped this episode without once getting horribly injured, which was nice. He didn't once take his shirt off, angering my roommate to no end, as she calls the show "Abs and Kilts."
Taking center stage this episode was Claire's 20th century medical knowledge versus 18th Century superstition. Which we all knew was coming.
The episode started with a flashback to Claire and Frank, which I continue to like as a way of keeping Claire's dilemma real. Then we get a fake out: It looks like Claire's confiding in Mrs. Fitz her big, time traveling secret. But it's not real, Claire's just imagining what would happen. In Claire's mind, it ends with Mrs. Fitz calling her a witch.
Claire's getting settled in as the castle's healer, trying desperately to translate what she knows into what's available in the 1743. The voiceover is pretty dismissive of a lot of what she finds in the healer's rooms, but there is some stuff she can use. The dismissive attitude returns when Claire learns from Mrs. Fitz that a boy has died because he went to a place where devils and demons live. Claire obviously doesn't believe that this is how he died, and her lack of understanding of the faith and superstitions of the time is going to keep biting her in the ass.
But first, she's summoned to massage Colum's legs. Once again, there's a bit of competence porn as Claire states that massaging Colum's back will be of more use than rubbing down his legs. (Colum has a very casual attitude towards showing his ass, by the way.) Before she gets to work, there's a fabulous little moment where a tailor tries to give Colum a coat long enough to hid his legs, which Colum finds offensive. Which is more than fair. Why should he have a different coat?
The center of Claire's assimilation and adaptation issues this week are a pair of boys. The center of Claire's Jamie issues this week is Laoghaire, the girl Jamie took punches to the face for last week. Let's start with the boys.
The first boy is Fitz's nephew. He too went to the Black Kirk (the place where demons live), and now everyone thinks he's possessed. Of course, Claire doesn't think so. And says as much to Geillis, the self-proclaimed witch. Geillis is shocked that Claire doesn't believe in the unknown, as am I, since Claire has traveled back in time. I mean, I get that she's right that the boy's poisoned, not possessed. But still. Reign in your skepticism a little bit, time traveler.
Claire goes to see the boy, but is blocked from helping by the arrival of the priest.
Look, Tim McInnerny is playing an authority figure filled with self-righteousness and a need to cement his own power over others. What a stretch for him.
The other boy that Claire is concerned with is one she sees while visiting Geillis to gather more medical supplies. This boy's been caught stealing, so he's set to lose a hand because the judge is in a bad mood. Geillis says that if the judge was in a good mood, he'd only be whipped. And here's where Geillis becomes one of the most interesting characters to me: She uses her feminine wiles on the judge, saving the boy's hand. And we get a fair amount of fart jokes with the flatulent judge, too. I cannot emphasize enough how much more light-hearted this episode felt.
But, when Claire reveals she had an unusual upbringing, she presses hard to learn more. She also responds to Claire saying she's a stranger in a strange land with "It can't be easy being a sassenach in the Highlands... assuming that's what you mean." And I can't tell if she's suspicious of Claire or just hungry for more information, but Claire clearly sees this as a threat. So maybe Geillis isn't the straight-up ally that she appeared to be.
The boy's ear is nailed to the pillory, meaning he's stuck there until he gets the fortitude to rip his ear out. Claire and Jamie do a neat bit of teamwork to help him: Claire distracts the crowd by "fainting" and Jamie pulls the nail out while telling the boy to just do it, so it looks like he did what he was supposed to. (Geillis sees this, too, by the way. I really wonder what's going on in her head.)
Claire and Jamie also visit the Black Kirk, where Claire realizes that the source of the boys' sickness is Lily of the Valley. Claire also messes up here, referring to "Germany," which doesn't exist by that name yet. It was a great touch.
Claire goes to save the poisoned boy, pissing off Father Darling, who basically thinks she's trying to do an end run around God. Mrs. Fitz, in total contrast to Claire's imagining at the beginning of the episode, stands up for her and the boy is saved. It's both a good bookend to that earlier scene and maybe a hint that Claire's not a reliable judge of character. She was completely wrong about Mrs. Fitz (or, at least, her worst case scenario about her was way off), so who knows what else she's going to get wrong? Of course, I could just be reading too much into this because of whatever's going on with Geillis.
The other plot running through this episode was Laoghaire and Jamie. Claire and Jamie were adorable this week. They seem to have traded in angst for some more casual flirting. Claire gets drunk and Jamie walks her home. They sit and watch a harpist together, while Laoghaire tries desperately to get Jamie's attention off of Claire and onto her. They even play footsie! Well, Jamie tries to, but Claire kicks him. She saw him canoodling with Laoghaire, and is not pleased. She says in the voiceover that she was just jealous of their intimacy and misses her husband... but she doesn't fool me.
And she doesn't fool anyone else, since we get a fairly heavy-handed statement that Jamie "needs a woman" and Laoghaire will be a girl "until she's 50." Gee, I wonder what's going to happen.
There are a lot of interesting things happening with Claire's position as a healer. Because she's saved the boy (and, I have no doubt, because she was so successful at easing Colum's pain), Claire is now an invaluable member of Colum's household. He takes credit for making her the healer, and she isn't going to be let go any time soon. So her biggest strength is also a weakness.
On the other hand, if she fails, she's going to open herself up to attack from Father Darling. He's out to get her now, and she's only protected because she's currently seen as a miracle worker. Claire can't be right every time there's a medical emergency. And a failure could easily put her in danger. Claire's stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I'm curious to see how she navigates it all.