Claire is on the worst road trip ever as she accompanies Dougal and some men to collect rent from tenants across MacKenzie lands. In its commitment to stay dull, the episode opens with Claire reciting a John Donne poem to a beautiful, placid lake. She’s interrupted by the lawyer, Ned Gowan, who has a coughing fit as he and Claire wax rhapsodically about their love of poetry or something. Doctor Nurse Claire comes to the rescue and gives Ned a little something to smoke in his pipe because, as modern woman, she knows he is suffering from asthma. They then become BFFs because poetry and smoking unite all clans.
Before long, everyone is back on the horses, and Claire and Ned continue to chat, but Claire is still hell-bent on getting back to the stones. Blah, blah, blah, we get it, Claire, you miss plumbing. We are eager for Claire to get back to the stones, too, because if she gets to the stones, maybe, just maybe something interesting will happen.
As the only woman on the road, Claire gets to watch the men share dirty jokes in Gaelic and she feels a bit left out and has a bit of a sulk about that. Fortunately, Jamie is on the road too. Don’t get excited. I promise you, nothing lurid comes of this. He tells her not to worry about being left out of the ribald fun. He also tells Claire he knows she is still set on escape and gives her that smoldering, “I have a lot going on under this kilt,” look of his. Claire gets huffy and walks off because she’s “tired.” Claire, you are your own worst enemy.
At a village, while the men are collecting rent, Claire finds some women who are, I kid you not, beating wool soaked in “hot piss,” because it helps the dye set faster. After she gets over the grossness of it all, Claire has herself a seat and joins in the fun. During a break with the ladies, where they have themselves a cocktail, Claire learns that the stones are only about three days ride away. There is hope again! But first, it’s back to playing with pee. They need more “hot piss” so Claire gamely straddles a bucket, hitches up her skirts in front of everyone and nearly squats. Before she can let loose, one of her minders angrily yanks her back to the men, because Claire has disappeared without permission, the nerve of her thinking she has autonomy.
Claire is extra feisty with a bit of drink in her and Dougal keeps insisting she’s drunk while Claire insists she is not. She wants to give a goat back to a family with a hungry baby, because she is righteous. The men keep yelling at her and then an Englishman tries to intervene but he’s told to mind his own business. As the scene ends, the Englishman dons a redcoat so I reckon we’ll see him again. Given this show’s pacing, that may happen in three seasons.
That night, during a rousing campfire tale, Dougal bares Jamie’s mortified flesh and soon people are giving up money to Dougal. When it’s over, Dougal throws Jamie’s torn shirt at Claire and tells her to make herself useful, which she is none too pleased about. She throws the shirt right back at Dougal, cheering our feminist hearts. Jamie has finally had enough, and grabs his shirt from Claire, who is about to relent. He storms out, tired of being a spectacle, but what a spectacle he is. Those arms are a sight to behold.
During a break as the journey continues, Claire goes on a bit of a hunger strike, because she is so offended by this whole-rent collecting business. This angers Angus who doesn’t want to be judged, and especially not by a Sassenach. Once again Jamie intervenes and counsels Claire to let this one go and she sort of does. Who can resist Jamie?
Claire has a flashback to a boring moment with Frank, discussing the Jacobites, and realizes Dougal and his men are collecting money for war and a Jacobite army to oust the Protestant king so the Stewart king can rightly regain his throne. Given her days of future past, Claire knows this isn’t going to end well but she can’t really say anything without being seen as crazy or full of sorcery.
After one of his bared-back episodes, Jamie gets angry that he’s being used by Dougal and starts to box a tree. The tree does not fight back. Claire comes upon him in the dark and they have another intimate encounter of the unsatisfying kind.
The next morning, Claire is feeling softer toward the “proud passionate men who lived and breathed for a flag of blue and white.” She sees them now as rebels, and we all know how irresistible a rebel is. Boom chika wow wow. We like them bad boys.
The group comes upon two men hung on crosses as traitors by the Redcoats. It’s a solemn, gruesome scene and everyone falls into a quiet anger. Dougal orders the bodies taken down and the men are given a proper Christian burial. At the fireside chat that night, Dougal is even more rousing and he doesn’t need to show off Jamie’s scarred back to collect more money, more problems.
Later that night, Claire hears something outside her door. She grabs a stick, ready to rabble-rouse but when she opens the door, she steps on Jamie, who just happens to be stretched out on the ground. Claire jumps to conclusions but Jamie is being awesome, as usual, protecting her virtue because the men are all rather drunk and fired up about how terrible the English are. As a woman, yeah, you know it, she is in danger! Claire invites Jamie to sleep in her room and I felt the faintest flicker of hope that was immediately extinguished. Jamie, being his own expert cock blocker, declines this invitation because he doesn’t want her reputation ruined. Claire joins in the cock blocking and offers Jamie a blanket before closing the door on him and all our hopes and dreams about seeing Jamie nude and loving on Claire as God intended.
Over breakfast, Claire tries to warn Ned Gowan about the folly of the impending war but he is passionate about the potential of fighting hearts. Claire shakes her head sadly, and says, “Fighting hearts don’t stand a chance against cannons. You’re going to lose.”
Suddenly, a brawl breaks out. This show gives the distinct impression that Highlanders love to brawl. Has there been an episode where we haven’t seen men beating each other to a pulp? In the aftermath, of tending to split lips and scraped knuckles, Doctor Nurse Claire learns the men were fighting to defend her honor because one of the men in the village called Claire a whore and they were not going to stand for that. Only the men of Clan MacKenzie are allowed to call Claire a whore, goddamnit.
In another flashback, Claire remembers the Battle of Culloden, which will happen in three years and will end the clan way of life. She laments how many of the men she is currently with will perish in the battle. While the men do man things, Claire goes to the river to wash herself and for once, Dougal seems to relent and lets her go alone. It’s Dougal, though, so there’s an agenda. He follows her and begins to interrogate Claire again, wanting to know why Claire is trying to “sow seeds of doubt” in the men. She says, sharply, “I’m trying to save your life.” Before they continue their conversation, though, the Englishman from earlier shows up, in his uniform. We learn he is a lieutenant in the British army and this time, he means to inquire as to Claire’s well being, in some moment of British solidarity, I guess. The lieutenant asks Claire if she’s okay and just when you feel the episode about to get really good, the camera fades to black. They call this a cliffhanger, though really, it feels more like a cliffdangler.
- Could they hook us up with some subtitles for the Gaelic?
- The English are clearly about to get in the mix. What is going to happen to Claire? Where do her loyalties lie given what she knows of history?
- Dear commenters, the books are indeed about sex, but it’s cute that you want to make it all more noble than it has been written, so it shall be.