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'Outlander' recap: 'The Devil's Mark'

Geillis and Claire stand trial for witchcraft.

Posted on

Neil Davidson


TV Show
Drama, Romance, Sci-fi
run date:
Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Gary Lewis, Graham McTavish, Tobias Menzies
Current Status:
In Season

What a gut punch! (And I don’t mean the Black Jack Randall kind.) “The Devil’s Mark” has got to be the most emotional Outlander episode thus far. Despite knowing the events that were to unfold, I still became misty-eyed over both Geillis’ sacrifice and Claire’s big decision. Grab your tartan hanky, and let’s go to court!

Following their arrest for witchcraft during last week’s “By the Pricking of My Thumbs,” Claire and Geillis find themselves at the bottom of the thieves’ hole awaiting trial.

“We won’t be here long,” Geillis assures Claire. “Dougal will come for us.” But Claire knows the truth: Dougal has been banished from Castle Leoch over his affair with the husband-murderer, and Jamie is escorting him home. In short: No one is coming for them. That truth becomes even more plain as they enter the courtroom and not a single soul from the castle is present. Except, wait! It’s Ned Gowan come to represent them. And his legal cunning is quite impressive! (If it wasn’t clear from last week’s contractual dealings, Ned is much more than a glorified coin collector.)

With what seems like the entire village in attendance, witnesses are called one by one to testify against the supposed sorceresses. First up: the Duncan’s housekeeper. She reveals that she not only saw Geillis selling love charms and amulets but that Claire was in cahoots. Ned, however, makes quick mincemeat of her, painting the maidservant as a disgruntled employee, tired of working for a “flatulent old” man and his “flibbertigibbet” of a wife.  

The next person to testify is the mother of the “changeling” Claire had found in the freezing woods and tried to save. The mother blames Claire (and her incantations) for the fairies not returning her son. But Ned once again turns the argument on its head, blaming the mother for simply standing by when she saw Claire interfering. And somehow he manages to assert this argument without the crowd turning on him. Again, admirable.

The final complainant for the day is a man who testifies that he watched Geillis—among other things—call “down lightning with the flick of a hand” and fly “like a great winged bird.” Okay, dude.

Back in their dark, dank hole, the tension between Claire and Geillis that’s been building since their arrest slowly begins to dissipate: They know they’re not long for this world. Or, at least, Geillis knows: “You still don’t understand, do you?” she asks Claire, who can’t seem to let go of her 20th-century notions of justice. “They mean to kill us. Drink tonight, Claire, for tomorrow our ashes will be scattered to the four winds.”

Geillis uses their final evening together as something of a confessional. She tells Claire that she’s been diverting her husband’s funds for years, amassing 1,000 pounds for Scotland. Yep, Geillis is a Jacobite. It was politics that brought she and Dougal together. “He’s a lion,” she coos.

“God, you actually love the bastard,” Claire muses before apologizing for Dougal leaving her behind. Geills says not to be sorry—she’s just glad she was able to help the cause.

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” Claire says, quoting the famous words credited to American spy Nathan Hale before his execution by the British—not to be uttered for another 33 years. It causes Geillis pause. “Nicely put,” she finally says.

NEXT: Disorder in the court