Outlander Recap: We Are Left Thirsty for a Mere Glimpse of Jamie’s Bare Torso


The Gathering
Season 1 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating 3 stars


The Gathering
Season 1 Episode 4
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

Welcome to our weekly recap of Outlander. Like Game of Thrones, this Starz drama is based on a series of best-selling novels that many viewers have yet to read. We therefore ask that book fans refrain from posting comments that might spoil upcoming plotlines for anyone sampling this show without having checked out Diana Gabaldon’s books yet — and to be civil toward them as well. Thank you for understanding. And now, on to the recap.

This is one of those episodes reminding us that Outlander is not at all interested in getting to the good stuff. That is to say, Jamie and Claire still don’t have sex in this episode and they probably won’t have sex in the next episode or the one after that, and I am starting to think that everything I’ve heard about Outlander is a figment of someone’s overactive, overheated imagination. Thanks for that, Internet.

At the top of the episode Claire is running through the woods. She’s either having a dream or she’s escaping, but since this is the slowest-moving show in the world, it’s clear that whatever’s going on, the explanation will underwhelm. Turns out, Claire is playing a hunting game with the children, but Claire is wily, and using the game to get the lay of the land. She cleverly leaves markers in various places and so on, breadcrumbs she calls them. It depresses me to even have to tell you any of this. The most troubling thing about this scene is how Claire is running around in what appears to be a heavy woolen dress with a bustle.

In addition to marking her path to the stones, Claire must also get rid of her guards who are as persistent as ever. She tries to put them on a young woman and then she goes to the stables to find a horse where she learns, Jamie isn’t around and should best be left alone during the gathering. What could that mean? It has to mean something. Sometimes, this show is not subtle.

When she returns to her surgery, Claire finds Geillis lurking about. Geillis, too, is a clever girl, and she begins asking Claire about her stash of Valerian and her food stores. Geillis knows something is up and she wants answers. She finishes her subtle but not subtle interrogation with more of her whimsical, subtext-laden talk about unexpected paths and how she’s free because she found herself a man. It’s a tale as old as time, amirite, ladies? “The Highlands are no place for a woman to be alone. You’d do well to remember that,” Geillis warns. If you think about it, this phrase could be applied to most any time, and any place for a woman, but let’s not distract ourselves with the harshness of reality. This is television.

Later that night, most of the clan gathers in the gathering hall to pledge allegiance to the flag of McKenzie. It’s totally a second verse, same as the first situation so after seeing one man plead his fealty, Claire sedates one of her guards with Valerian-laced wine, the other probably occupied with the lass from earlier. Now, she thinks, is my chance, but because this is the fourth episode of the show and basically nothing has happened yet, let’s manage our expectations.

As she makes final preparations, the other woman in Jamie’s life, the McKenzie lass whose name I never quite catch, comes to Claire and asks for a love potion to move Jamie’s heart.  Claire gives the girl some horse dung because Jamie won’t know the difference and tells her to do a little dance to make it rain love or something along those lines.

In the depths of the castle, Claire is accosted by some ne’er-do-wells because, as this show loves reminding us, single women are not safe around men. A wedding ring, I suppose, also installs a chastity device on a woman’s vagina. Who knew? Before anything too terrible happens, Dougal rescues Claire. The second-in-command is rather drunk and demands a penalty for his efforts because, of course. Once again, Claire is imperiled but because she is a fierce modern woman, she hits him over the head with a chair or something and flees to the stables where she might embark on her half-assed escape.

Before she can get away, she stumbles over Jamie who just HAPPENS to be lurking in the stables. Jamie quickly breaks down why Claire can’t run away and basically crushes all her hopes and dreams. Jamie Sexy Killer of Dreams McTavish is his full given name. They chat a bit, but it’s not interesting because it’s not sexy talk, though, to be fair, Jamie lowers his voice to panty-dropping octaves at just the right moments. Eventually, Jamie escorts Claire back to the castle. He’s rewarded for his gallantry by being knocked over the head because he must go swear an oath to Colum.

Blah blah blah.

Standing in the hall, Claire learns that Jamie avoids the gathering because he won’t swear an oath to the Clan McKenzie and she realizes that the only reason he’s in this mess is because, as usual, he’s looking out for her. This is Jamie we’re talking about though so he uses that sweet, silver tongue that has yet to grace Claire’s flawless 20th-century skin, and swears an oath so long as he is on McKenzie lands and after a tense moment, everyone celebrates and it is time to drink!

The next morning, there is a hunt on and Claire, setting a precedent for PETA, 18th-century style, objects to anyone who will listen about pig hunting. She is quickly corrected — it is boar the men are after and a boar is no ordinary pig. She’s milling about to help the injured and before long, she tends to a man has a gash in his leg from a boar’s tusk, and snippily says, “I told you so.” Not long after, there’s another man who is even more gravely injured — a boar has slashed in his leg and his abdomen, his guts oh so graphically spilling out for us. History is the worst. Dougal holds the dying man as he confesses his sins and Claire, having been through a war and whatnot, offers the man soothing words as he goes toward the light.

On the way back to the castle, Dougal and Claire come upon a bunch of brawny Scots playing the most violent version of field hockey ever. Imagine the sadomasochism of Jackass, accompanied by bagpipes, and men wrestling and hitting each other with sticks that are obviously phallic substitutes. It comes down to Dougal and Jamie and then it becomes a dick-sizing competition. Jamie wins, of course, practically grunting as the testosterone oozes out of his pores. Claire watches with wide eyes, as do we all.

Back in the castle, Dougal comes to see Claire in the surgery and tells her that he knows she has seen violent death before and then informs Claire he will be taking her on a bit of a road trip because a healer might come in handy. It all seems a little menacing but Claire is excited to get out of the castle and perhaps to escape back to her boring husband, Frank. The episode ends with Claire on a horse, heading away from Castle Leoch, but let’s not get too excited. It’s not likely that her journey will lead to sex with Jamie anytime soon. I am starting to hate this show.

Looking Ahead:

  • On a scale from one to ten, where one is IKEA on a Saturday morning and ten is Mordor, how much does the 18th century suck?
  • There is no hope, is there?
  • Seriously, though, how much longer must we wait?
  • How many times is the show going to put Claire in sexual peril to prove a point? Better question: How many times will this plot device be used in all television shows and movies?

Outlander Recap: Where Is Jamie’s Bare Torso?