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'Outlander' recap: 'By the Pricking of My Thumbs'

The Duke of Sandringham comes to town.

Posted on

Ed Miller


TV Show
Drama, Romance, Sci-fi
run date:
Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan
Ronald D. Moore
Current Status:
In Season

The Slap. The Dukes of Hazzard. How to Get Away With Murder. Tonight’s Outlander rolled three TV shows into one. It was a stuffed episode, to be sure, but one that managed to keep the momentum going after last week’s action-packed return.

And speaking of action, we must start with that opening sequence. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ. When I spoke with Ron Moore a few weeks ago, he mused that there would be no topping the wedding episode. But after the midseason premiere’s dagger-sex and tonight’s, uh, face-plant, Moore may have underestimated their efforts. These new episodes are certainly rising to the occasion.

Jamie’s amorous actions, however, are interrupted by a persistent banging…on the door. It’s Murtagh, come to tell him the Duke of Sandringham has arrived to take council with the Laird. Jamie sees this visit as an opportunity to argue his innocence, but Claire—with her 20th-century insight—isn’t convinced Jamie will get the justice he deserves, given that Sandringham is an ally of Black Jack Randall’s. Jamie persists, and hatches a plan with Ned:

“I can draw up a petition of complaint accusing Randall of crimes against the Scottish people—your wife included—and of transgressing his majesty’s laws,” the lawyer explains to Jamie. “If you can convince the Duke of Sandringham to deliver that document to the Lord President of the Court of Session, that could lead to a court-martial of Black or at the very least a reassignment far from Scottish soil.” With Black Jack in disgrace, Ned thinks he will be able to win Jamie a pardon.

Meanwhile, Claire has some justice of her own to mete out. She finds Laoghaire in the kitchen and confronts her about the ill-wish left under the bed. Laoghaire denies it all, hurling insults at Claire: “He must have to get himself swine-drunk before he can stand to plow your field,” Laoghaire hisses, earning a slap to the face by Claire.

“I shouldn’t have done that. Sorry,” Claire demurs, but the hit prompts two confessions from Laoghaire: 1. That she is indeed responsible for the ill-wish and 2. that she purchased it from Claire’s supposed friend Geillis Duncan.

Claire decides to investigate, and after stopping by Geillis’ home and getting a rather rude reception from Geillis’ flatulence-prone husband (I’ve probably said this before, but those ludicrous sound effects are one of my most favorite things ever), she’s told by the housemaid that Geillis will be in the woods just before dawn. And that is where Claire finds her, wrapped in a gauzy shift, dancing with torch aloft—a very similar scene to the one Claire witnessed at Craigh na Dun back in the 1940s. Oh, and Geillis is visibly pregnant.

“You can come out now, Claire,” Geillis beckons to the hidden Sassenach when her ritual is complete.

Geillis then reveals her secret: The child she carries is not her husband’s but Dougal MacKenzie’s! (Dougal could really start a side business impregnating other men’s wives—seems to me like a much more fun way to raise money for the Jacobite cause…) Apparently the purpose of Geillis’ summoning was to “ask for our freedom. Dougal’s and mine,” she informs Claire. (Dougal is married, FYI.) She then shows off a bauble Dougal gave her—one gifted to him by the Duke, which triggers Claire’s future memory: the Duke was also a suspected Jacobite.

NEXT PAGE: Let’s Duke it out