Frank realizes the futility of his search for Claire, who has another unfortunate run-in with ancestor Black Jack.
I’d like to believe that even the purest of source-material purists among us would agree that the small-screen adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander has benefited greatly from the increased presence of Claire’s left-behind-love Frank. After all, how tortured can a love triangle really be when the third party is missing in action? Ever since our heroine disappeared through the standing stones, we’ve been reminded—through both bittersweet flashbacks and pained present-day moments—what really is at stake if Claire decides to stay in 1743 Scotland with Jamie.
The midseason finale (Outlander won’t return until April 2015!) starts with a sound we haven’t heard in a long time—a ringing telephone. It’s the Inverness police station, where Frank has returned (once again) to inquire about his wife’s whereabouts and the ensuing investigation. The detective assures they’ve done everything they can, rambling off the statistics: six weeks, 100 square miles searched, 175 interviews, 1,000 man hours. But it’s not enough for Frank. And he certainly won’t accept the copper’s conclusion that Claire ran away with that mysterious Highlander.
“My wife is not with another man!” Frank yells. (Oh, Frank.)
Cut to Jamie and Claire enjoying a peaceful moment together in the countryside. “Is it usual, what it is between us when I touch you?” Jamie asks.
After a beat or two, Claire responds: “No, this is unusual. It’s different.”
And then an arrow whizzes into the ground just feet from where they’re sitting. But all’s well: It’s just Hugh Monro—an acquaintance of Jamie’s who has news. Apparently, some man named Horrocks can vouch for Jamie. He was there the night of the prison break and knows who killed the sergeant that Jamie is accused of murdering. Jamie could have the price taken off his head and return home if this Horrocks is legitimate—but the mystery man is also a Redcoat deserter, so Jamie’s right to be suspicious.
(It should also be noted, that before leaving, Hugh gifts Claire with a dragonfly in amber. Ahem.)
Later that night, as Jamie and Claire are canoodling around the fire, the clansmen are attacked by raiders. Though they only got away with a horse and three bags of grain, it inspires the MacKenzies to teach Claire how to protect herself. Angus is elected her Miyagi, showing her how to deftly dispatch with a man from the front (or the back) using a sgian-dubh—a small dagger. (Anyone else catch Rupert’s “That’s what she said” joke when Claire said the first knife was too long and heavy for her? He’s grown on me, that one.) Anyway, our dear Sassenach is now prepared for the Highland’s marauding menaces.
Her training is put to the test just a short time later. Jamie and Claire splinter off from the group to get busy in the meadow (as you do), when they’re interrupted in flagrante delicto by two Redcoat deserters. As one holds Jamie back, the other drops trou to rape Claire. Quick-thinking Claire grabs her dagger and stabs him in the kidney, just as Angus taught her. As he cries out, Jamie escapes the grasp of the other soldier and slits his throat. And while (mostly) physically unharmed, Claire is rightfully in shock.
NEXT: The other side
As it turns out, Frank knows how to handle himself, too. Back in 1945, he’s soothing himself with a drink at the bar when a woman approaches, telling him she knows where to find the Highlander. But she insists he come back later at half past 12—and with the reward. As you probably guessed, she’s set him up. When Frank arrives at the meeting spot, he’s ambushed by two shady figures. His pent-up rage takes over, and he nearly beats one of them to death before escaping into the night. Back at the reverend’s home, the housekeeper has had just about enough, too: She wants to tell Frank what she knows about the standing stones. He listens to her tale of travelers piercing the veil of time and how they often return. He’s skeptical, of course, and tells his hosts he’ll be returning home to England. But, as he’s zooming through the country roads, he spots a sign for Craigh na Dun and turns off.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the Redcoat attack, the MacKenzie men decide that Jamie can’t meet Horrocks alone—it’s just too dangerous. So the group sets off (with a still addled Claire) for the rendezvous point. After riding a while, Jamie stops short and insists that Claire stay behind. She does so, reluctantly, promising Jamie she’ll stay put. But when her protector Willie walks off to take care of “some personal business” deeper in the woods, Claire begins to wander and spots a sight she wasn’t sure she’d ever see again: Craigh na Dun!
In an intricately woven scene, Claire and Frank simultaneously (centuries apart) summit the hill. He cries her name, and she can hear him! She responds, but can he hear her? (I say yes; my editor says no. What do you say?) But before she can touch the stones (and potentially travel back to the future), she’s seized by a band of Redcoats. A dejected Frank doesn’t linger long before also retreating. So close!
Claire, meanwhile, knows exactly where she’s being taken: Ft. William, where Jamie was flogged by Black Jack. She also knows that she has an advantage: namely, time to think about what she’ll say when Randall interrogates her. And, for a while, this advantage works in her favor. Claire brings up the Duke of Sandringham, which clearly throws Randall. She tells him she’s under the Duke’s employee, too. But Black Jack doesn’t believe her and tests her, inquiring if she ever met with the Duchess. To which Claire replies that they’ve been in correspondence. It’s a total gotchya. THERE IS NO DUCHESS.
Randall pulls a length of rope out of his desk (probably right next to his Wite-Out and stack of Post-its) and ties Claire up. Using a knife, he begins to cut the laces of her corset, finally ripping open her dress. He finds her hidden dagger and grazes her nipple with it (ack!). He bends her over the desk, rucks up her skirts, and attempts to rape her. (Seriously, two almost-rapes in one episode!? Too much!) But just in the nick of time, Jamie appears crouched in the window with a demand of his own: “I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife!”
And there you have it—a nice little cliffhanger to ponder while you wait for new episodes. In 2015. Until then, Bidh mi ‘gad fhaicinn!