“By the pricking of my thumbs. Something wicked this way comes.” From Macbeth, Shakespeare.
Misconstrued relationship perceptions and unintended consequences riddle this emotionally charged Outlander episode. The wicked indeed does come in different forms.
The opening scene is a shock to the viewer into intimate pleasures being bestowed upon Claire by a fervent Jamie. An instant “rewind” moment. Young Jamie no doubt has picked up some advanced skills within his short marriage. Such a pleasant dreamy way to greet the morning light. The expectation is set in the first seconds only to be shattered almost as quickly. An opening that has deep and swift impact.
This short excursion is intruded upon as the reality of the outside world beyond Jamie and Claire’s bedchamber encroaches relentlessly.
This episode starts with this delicious escapade in hope and promise before careening into unwanted events and consequences.
In lieu of breaking down the whole episode, I have chosen to look at two distinct themes overall.
Actions that lead to unexpected outcomes and consequences.
The Duke of Sandringham
A cunning, gutless, and opportunistic man, his arrival served some key purposes. An utter joy to watch to be sure, Simon Callow is absolutely spot on in this role. One, the promise to help secure Jamie a pardon. Two, for the wrath of Colum to send Jamie away from Castle Leoch, and for him to play both sides of the Crown and Jacobite causes so he will always be on the winning side. The handling of his penchant for men, Jamie in particular was well done for today’s sensibilities while allowing for verbiage from that time period to play out in a couple of scenes without being wholly offensive or stereotypical. His stand out moments are when he caresses Jamie’s face and when he retrieves the petition of complaint from Jamie’s pocket then runs away.
With Lallybroch stars in his eyes, he has to take the risk of trusting the Duke in helping him secure his freedom and restoring his good name. In this risk taking, his agreement to help the Duke in a duel, concludes in a sword fight against four brothers and a fairly serious wound. Though the Duke honors his word by taking his petition of complaint, he cannot be trusted to follow through against Black Jack Randall in defense of Jamie. Claire refuses to speak to Jamie while attending his wound, leaving him in lonely encouragement from his “win” with the Duke.
The rage and wrath of Colum rain down upon unsuspecting Jamie. He believes his uncle will be happy he has a plan in place to secure his own freedom to return to Lallybroch. Reality hits you hard bro. Apologies carry no weight with his infuriated uncle. Colum orders him away from Castle Leoch to babysit Dougal. Claire is left behind. A precise and tidy way to have no protection for Claire when events unfold shortly after.
Claire’s confrontation of Laoghaire over the ill wish, though cross at first, was tempered with compassion and understanding for the young woman. She tries to be kind and reason with Laoghaire. That was until Laoghaire’s insistence that Claire stole Jamie away and vicious insults hurled, prompted Claire to slap her across the face. She quickly apologized for the slap knowing she should have had self-control, but the damage in Laoghaire’s mind was obviously done. While “Reactionary Claire” is nothing new, it is well used here to incite Laoghaire’s hatred. Though Claire has just cause to be very angry with Laoghaire, she knows not the bounds this scorned young woman will go to get what she wants.
Next of her own volition, she goes to on to blackmail the Duke of Sandringham to help Jamie’s case and then later threatens him if harm came to Jamie during the duel. Is this rash of her? Effective, yes. Rash, I think so especially the threat she placed upon him so boldly during the dinner. The consequences of these actions are yet unknown. I am certain they will be marked. Put a pin it for future recollection.
Next to Geillis’ house she went. Seeking answers about the ill wish Laoghaire procured from her. With Geillis not home, she was directed into the woods by the house girl Jeanie. Claire found Geillis performing a sensual fire ritual summoning ceremony. Discovering Geillis is pregnant, and by Dougal, a surprised Claire agrees to keep the secrets for her friend. Suspicion is cast upon her simply because of her relationship with Geillis. Did anyone see her there?
Next, while walking back to town with Geillis, they hear a weak baby cry from the Faerie Hill, ignoring good advice to leave immediately and not tend to the cast out child, Claire proceeds to not only go find the child but to hold the dead baby in her arms. The parents left this child to die in the woods under the premise that is was a changeling and the faeries have there healthy child. These are strong superstitions. The parents could be watching from afar and believe Claire killed the child. Good intentions do lead straight to bad situations sometimes.
Outside of her blackmailing of the Duke, everything Claire does can be made sense of, not even considered reckless. Yes, each, act like crumbs leading the way for a determined and hate filled Laoghaire to have her arrested for witchcraft alongside Geillis. “These are dangerous times mo nighean donn.”
In truth, she is a suspicious character. Her eye on the prize of Dougal, her down fall. The summoning ritual Claire witnessed, was an act of praying for freedom for her and Dougal to be together. He needs to be free of his wife Maura, and she, Arthur. In turn, Maura unexpectedly dies of a fire consuming fever. then during the Duke’s dinner at Castle Leoch, Arthur falls ill in the hall and dies. Just before acting the grieving widow, Claire and Colum catch sight of Geillis and Dougal eyeing each other knowingly. Colum knows in that moment she poisoned her husband, as does Dougal and Claire. Geillis believes she is untouchable. She believes Dougal would keep her and the baby safe no matter what. A grave error. Claire gave her an out. Telling her to leave immediately because Colum’s ire was coming. She refused.
Her own arrogance put her in this horrific position. To the thieves hole, arrested for witchcraft, and Dougal no where near. Her surprise when the wardens come is flawless Geillis.
Dougal frankly is a mess of conundrum this episode. One one hand he has a completely out of control melt down that requires sedation, upon hearing the news of his wife Maura’s death that is out of sync for the life he lives. For goodness sake, he is having an affair with Geillis Duncan, and impregnated her in the process. No sister is safe from swiving while Dougal is around the rumors say. So why the theatrics, I cannot say for sure. The outcome of this is an excessively angered Colum. He is completely over his brother’s antics so much so, that he orders him back to own his estate for the funeral of his wife and to stay there until he says he can return.
If that is not bad enough, his telling Colum that Geillis is pregnant with his child and he loves her, sends Colum into a deeper rage against Dougal. He even forbids Dougal from saying goodbye to Geillis on the way out of town.
His unexpected consequences of being forced to leave the castle with Jamie, Murtagh, Rupert, and Angus in tow, he cannot protect his “beloved” Geillis and the baby when she is arrested for witchcraft.
All of their actions have profound and unexpected negative consequences. Viewers are well entertained, while the story lines are properly set up to go where they need to.
It is very clear that where a relationship is misconstrued by one party problems follow. This notion is keenly woven throughout this episode.
Laoghaire MacKenzie is certain Jamie was and is hers. She believes they were in a relationship before “cold English bitch” Claire stole him away. She contends even though he turned her away previously, he is in a loveless relationship with Claire and he longs for her alone. Sometimes a kiss is just a kiss. Her fierce protection of this idea leads her to not only ill wish Claire, but to provide a vehicle in which to have her imprisoned, even killed. This is not the action of a misunderstood, sweet young woman. This is willful malicious intent. Being in love with someone is not a reason to have someone harmed or killed. The shine of sympathy toward her as a disappointed, heartbroken lass from The Reckoning, is no more. The layers of Laoghaire are being peeled back, exposing her true nature. I hope everyone stops apologizing for her. She IS in her own mind. She is choosing to do bad things because she sees her relationship with Jamie completely different than reality.
Jamie is blinded by his desire to gain freedom however he must. He assumes his dealings with the Duke will be seen favorably by his uncle Colum. He is totally wrong. His relationship with his uncle is far more tenuous than he knows. The punishment for his belief is being sent away with his uncle Dougal. Sometimes it is better to ask first, before banking on the strength of a relationship.
The Duke of Sandringham wrongly believes everyone knows about his “friendship” with Black Jack Randall. This leads him to support Jamie in the quest to free his name and throw BJR under the proverbial bus. There will be consequences upon him in the future.
Dougal believes he wields more power in his relationship with Colum than he does. He is stunned to be exiled immediately and forbidden from giving his soon to be born child with Geillis his name. Standing in for Colum, being his legs as it were, certainly altered his perception of power and equality with his brother the Laird.
All of these misconstrued views of relationship status have immediate and long reaching impact.
Interestingly, the only key relationship foundation not cracked in this episode is the precarious one of Claire and Jamie. The solid intimate connection the episode started with is the only thread of hope we are left with as the credits roll.
More questions to ponder post viewing. What will happen to Claire and Geillis in the thieves hole? Will Laoghaire pay for her subterfuge? Will Jamie come to Claire’s aid in time? Will Geillis and the baby survive? Will the Duke of Sandringham follow through with his promise?
A last thought on the clever use of the episode title, wickedness indeed is everywhere. From Laoghaire to Geillis, the heart of Dougal, the Duke playing all sides, even the superstition that would leave a baby to die on a faerie hill. Something wicked this way comes.
Bottom line, I am very pleased with this episode. The writers took a large chunk of material and gave us a smart, surprising, and satisfying hour. All roads lead to the proper exits and entrances but in ways I did not see coming.