Claire shrugs off her 20th-century shift in favor of an 18th-century corset; Jamie reveals a few secrets of his own.
A few fun facts about our be-kilted hero Jamie: He’s eaten grass (“It doesn’t taste bad, but it’s not very filling”), MacTavish isn’t his real surname (it’s a nom de guerre, if you will—and the reason no one ever seems to know who Claire is referring to as Mr. MacTavish), and he’s wanted for murder (which isn’t so much fun as potentially fatal, but let’s not start splitting hairs just yet). If Starz weren’t so intent on giving each Outlander episode such absurdly literal titles, “Castle Leoch” could have alternately been called “Bringing Up Jamie” or “Rebel With a Cause” or a much better hunk-specific pun than I can think of right now.
But the episode episode begins with that literal place, as the clansmen and Claire ride into Castle Leoch. They’re greeted by the formidable Mistress FitzGibbons (Mrs. Fitz for short), who tends to the household—she’s essentially the 18th-century version of Mrs. Hughes. Now, if you look up “side eye” on Urban Dictionary, the earliest listed definition dates back to 2006, but Mrs. Fitz perfected the art centuries earlier as she looked disheveled Claire up and down, promising to find her “something to wear that’s a bit more, well, a bit more.” Claire protests that she needs to tend to Jamie’s injuries, and once again Mrs. Fitz’s eyes are the window to her soul. “You mean to say you know what do for that?” she asks skeptically. “You’re a charmer then? A Beaton?” “Something like that,” Claire responds, unsure.
As Claire and Jamie make their way into the stone structure, we flash back to Claire walking the same path with Frank—a nice narrative device used throughout the episode to keep Frank at the fore, just as he must be in Claire’s mind. With Jamie’s top doffed for Claire to tend to his shoulder, she gets her first good look at his back, which alarmingly resembles one of those packaged honey hams from the deli counter at the grocery store. He explains that his scars are from a Redcoat flogging. Two, actually, in the span of a week, administered by Jack Randall. You see, Randall paid a visit to Jamie’s family’s farm a few years before, attacking Jamie’s sister, Jenny, and exacting punishment on Jamie, who tried to protect her. Randall gave Jenny an ultimatum: Watch her brother continue to get beaten (probably to death) or take good ol’ Black Jack inside for “better entertainment.” She obliged, and Jamie was carted off.
When present-day Jamie comes out of his reverie, he thanks Claire for her good touch and says her husband is a lucky man. At this, Claire breaks down into tears.
“Is he not alive?” Jamie asks, to which Claire answers honestly: “No, actually, he’s not alive.” Jamie wraps her in an embrace, and as they pull apart from one another, well, electricity wasn’t en vogue just yet, but you get the idea. Claire quickly comes to her senses and apologizes for the lingering look.
“You need not be scared of me, nor anyone else here as long as I’m with you,” Jamie assures her.
“When you’re not with me?” she asks.
“You must never forget that you’re English in a place where that’s not a pretty thing to be.”
NEXT: Cue the makeover montage!
Now, if Claire is going to fit into 18th-century society for however long she’s stuck there, it’s high time she shrugs out of her white shift and slips into something less comfortable. Mrs. Fitz comes bearing all the requisite trimmings: corset, bustle, and arm warmers that she must have procured from a Brooklynite’s knitwear store on Etsy.
Finally appropriately attired, Claire is taken to meet the Laird of the castle, Colum MacKenzie, a severely bow-legged man (he has Toulouse-Lautrec syndrome), who interrogates the Outlander. And, curiously, not so much about her untrue testimony (i.e. traveling to France to reunite with relatives) but about her big ugly truth (Randall’s rape attempt).
“It’s true Captain Randall has a certain reputation, but he is an officer, a gentleman,” Colum says. “And you’re saying a man bearing the king’s commission decided to rape a stray lady traveler he came upon in the woods for no good reason?”
“Is there ever a good reason for rape, Master MacKenzie?” Claire responds (as we cheer). For what it’s worth, I looked this passage up in the source material, and there’s a marked difference between Diana Gabaldon’s wording and what’s said here. Was Ronald D. Moore making a very necessary point about the egregiousness of rape, especially in the context of sexual-assault-as-go-to-TV trope? Maybe!
With their conversation drawing to a close, Colum tells Claire that there’s a transport leaving for Inverness in five days, and she’ll be on it. But our Sassenach is still not beyond suspicion. At dinner, she’s once again questioned by Colum—about the pronunciation of her name, where her relatives live, and more. Claire saves herself (or perhaps puts herself in even more danger) when she interrupts the talk, mistaking Colum’s son Hamish as Dougal’s. Awkward—for many reasons that we’ll learn about later. She excuses herself and resolves to be much more careful in her final days at the castle.
A pair of scenes further paint an impressive picture of Jamie. In the first, Claire visits him at the stables to re-bandage his wound, and he tells her more about himself: how MacTavish isn’t actually his last name, how he’s a wanted man even though he’s innocent, how he trusts Claire. Then, in the evening at the great hall, we see him offer to weather a pummeling punishment meant for a young girl (Mrs. Fitz’s granddaughter), who’s accused by her father of “loose behavior.” Jamie, of course, takes it like a man, despite still being injured.
Jamie may not be Claire’s only 18th-century ally, though. While picking mushrooms outside of the castle, she makes the acquaintance of another woman in the field, a Geillis Duncan. “They say I’m a witch,” Geillis teases, telling Claire to come visit her sometime in the village for other herbs and medicinals.
And it looks like Claire will have ample opportunity to do just that as her trip to Inverness is cancelled by Colum. Dougal escorts her to the Sex Dungeon (you recall from the first episode, yes?), and Colum informs her that she is to stay on at the castle as his “guest,” working as a healer since the previous Beaton ironically succumbed to illness.
“You mean as your prison, don’t you?” Claire spits back.
“Only if you try to leave,” he replies.
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