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Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) and her husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies - Game of Thrones ) take a trip to the Scottish Highlands. He is a military history buff, and wants to find where his ancestor Jack Randall was stationed during the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
Scotland is mysterious and magical. Claire gets her palm read by the housekeeper, who gives her an ambiguous prophecy. She will travel but stay in the same place, and have two husbands. Lots of great foreshadowing, even if it makes the Scottish look like a bunch of ignorant savages. They even conduct secret druidic rituals at Samhain, which is quite unlikely in a country which is strongly Presbyterian or a region that has a long history of Jacobite Catholicism. After all, the place has a history or burning witches.
Claire accidentally gets sent back in time by the druidic stones. She discovers that her husband's ancestor, Jack Randall, is an officer but certainly no gentleman. However, she is rescued by some big butch Jacobites. Hopefully she will find a love interest. Meanwhile she puts her nursing skills to use looking after the youngest and prettiest of the highlanders. Unlike the others he does not have a beard, so he is probably too young to shave.
What makes this story unusual is that it is not a modern-day person travelling into history, or even a historical person in the modern day. Claire is from the 1940s, a veteran nurse who served in the Second World War. This means that she will be able to adjust to life in the 1740s far better than anyone from the digital era would.
The Highlanders take Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) to their castle. Despite her knowledge of science and medicine, nobody has tried to burn her as a witch yet. She tends to the pretty-boy's wounds, and discovers that he has many scars from his previous encounters with Randall. He is Jamie MacTavish Fraser (Sam Heughan), and he is the obvious love interest while she plays Florence Nightingale.
We get a flashback to Randall's first mission in the Highlands. Several years ago, the government wanted rich landowners to pay their taxes. Randall and his redcoats were sent out to collect a small amount of food. Unfortunately the lord of the manor was off at a funeral, and his son and heir was out working in the fields like a common farmer. The place was looked after by the sister. Randall has already been established as NAFF (not attractive for fornication), and now the pretty-boy gets established as a White Knight.
Claire has to spend a few days in the castle before anyone can take her back to Inverness. She is at the wrong end of Loch Ness, it seems. Luckily Nessie does not make an appearance in this show.
The locals are suspicious of Claire. They have no reason to trust her. However, she seems to make one friend - the local herbalist ( Lotte Verbeek ).
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) is being held in the MacKenzie clan's castle. As a trained nurse she is the only healer the clan has access to. She is allowed out and about in the village, but she has an armed guard to watch her at all times.
This week's tales concern a couple of young boys. One is stricken with a mysterious illness after wandering in an abandoned abbey that everyone thinks is haunted. The village priest (Tim McInnerny - Doctor Who ) thinks the boy is demonically possessed. Claire has to find the true cause of the ailment.
The other boy stands accused of stealing two loaves of bread, for which the sentence may be the loss of a hand. Yes, before the penitentiary system was invented in the Nineteenth Century the standard punishments were corporal and capital in nature. Not unlike the Sharia system in the Islamic world. Luckily the law-giver (John Sessions - ) is the husband of the local herbalist ( Lotte Verbeek ), who can convince him to be lenient.
Jamie aids Claire in helping both boys. Yes, he is still a central character with nothing else to do but spend time with the protagonist.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) plans to escape from Castle Mackenzie. Her best chance will be during the clan's annual gathering, when the men all line up to swear allegience to the Laird.
Jamie has a young woman interested in him. She is a bonnie young lassie who asks Claire to make her a love potion.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) is conscripted into being the field medic on a Uncle Dougal is in charge, while Jamie and his men come along as muscle. She befriends Ned the bean-counter (Bill Patterson - ).
The Highlanders are presented as being completely alien. They speak in gaelic, a language the protagonist does not understand. Their sympathies are with the Jacobites, presented here not as a faction in the British royal court but rather as a Scottish force that is entirely independent of the British. How ironic that Britain itself was unified by a Scottish king, the grandfather of James Stuart (after whom the Jacobite cause was named).
En route they also encounter the mandatory signs of Redcoat cruelty.
This is one of the strongest episodes so far. It does not rely on spectacular scenery or action, since it is mostly conversation set in a single dining room. The writer is Ira Steven Behr, of the Star Trek franchise.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) is invited to dinner with the redcoats' general. Him and his officers are portrayed as effete snobs. The only one who is efficient or effective is Captain Black Jack Randall, the villain of the show who has only appeared in the first episode so far. He is re-introduced, and properly fleshed out as a character.
The gist of it is that the redcoats are meant to be an invading army of occupation. The officers are from Sussex and London, while the Scots they oppress are Highlanders. There are no lowland scottish, or northern English, because this would introduce shades of gray into this black-and-white version of history.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) has a flashback to the day she married Frank. Now she is marrying her second husband. Although she has not yet buried her first husband, this is not technically bigamy or adultery. After all, what happens on a time travel trip to the past STAYS in the distant past.
Claire and Jamie get married off-screen. The law requires that they consumate it that night. They do not have much choice, if Claire is meant to become a Scottish citizen by marriage. Although Jamie mentioned last week that he still has a bounty on his head, nobody points out that by marrying him Claire is committing another felony. Instead of Black Jack Randal coming after her for helping the Jacobite fund-raising, he would be after her for harbouring a wanted fugitive.
This is the first properly romantic episode, where the bodice-ripping really starts to happen. Claire is unhappy about the arranged marriage, but Jamie is much younger and prettier than she is so he eventually wears her down with his niceness. Also he claims to be a virgin, but despite his lack of experience he is somehow a very skilled lover. Totally a cliche of the genre, the flawless two-dimensional character purely there to service the protagonist.
The wedding, and the events leading up to it, are shown in flashback. All very romantic and so on. Then there is lots of nudity and sex. We get to see Jamie's hairless buttocks, shaven for the female audience, no doubt. This episode was written and directed by women, so it is a fine example of the Female Gaze.
Jamie gives his topless wife a pearl necklace. If you know what I mean. No, literally he fastens a string of pearls around her neck. One imagines that the original novel contained mention of a certain sex act, and the writer adapting this episode took the reference literally.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) meets a friend of Jamie's. He is a beggar named Hugh, mutilated by Turkish muslims instead of by English redcoats. His wedding gift for the couple is a piece of amber with a dragonfly trapped inside. Claire is so happy with her new life, she has almost forgotten about her plans to escape back to her own time.
Back in 1945, Frank is frustrated by the mysterious disappearance of his wife. He puts up a reward for the mysterious highlander. It turns out that he has a dark side, just like Black Jack.
Meanwhile, the Highlanders teach Claire how to kill with a dagger. She should have a much better knowledge of anatomy than they do, but they mansplain about how a stab in the kidneys will prove fatal. This will do her no good against Black Jack, because she needs him alive in order for her husband Frank to exist.
This episode is narrated by Jamie, and starts with the climax of the previous episode - from his point of view. He performs a daring rescue by infiltrating the castle. He even swings through a window, SAS style. To avoid yet another count of murder against him, he does not want to actually kill any of the redcoats.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) learns that her actions have consequences. As soon as her husband gets her home, he has to punish her for her disobedience by giving her a good spanking. This is what Cat-girl in Gotham deserves for repeatedly attempting to murder her friend Jim Gordon, but in this show it just looks like domestic violence. It becomes a sticking point in the relationship, and Jamie must atone for it by pledging fealty to her in a feudal manner. Now she has to be on top during sex.
The rent-gathering party returns to Castle Mackenzie. The Laird is less than happy because they have been fund-raising for the Jacobites. Well, since Black Jack Randall knew what they were up to it is hardly a surprise that the Laird found out as well. The two brothers, Laird and War Chief, are now at each others throats.
Jamie still has a stalker. The bonnie wee lassie from Outlander [Season 1, Episode 4] The Gathering is still interested in him, even though she knows he is married. Can he resist temptation?
The Duke of Sandringham pays a visit to Castle Mackenzie. Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) reveals that he is the man who keeps Randall safe from punishment for his crimes.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) wakes up like Rip Van Winkle, in the middle of a Druidic circle of standing stones in Scotland. She is back in 1948 again, and she has to adjust to modern life. However, she secretly longs for her long-lost lover, like in Somewhere in Time .
Finally, she has a flashback to the 1740s. Her bodice-ripper fantasy life had taken her and her perfect lover to France. A bit of exposition explains their plan - to infiltrate the Jacobite conspiracy and prevent the failed Rising of 1745.
In France, they also have to deal with Smallpox. The local aristocrat does not think this deadly plague is a big deal, and makes a big fuss about losing his ship and cargo when half the town's population (including himself) have been exposed to this pathogen. The peasants are no better, crowding around the infected man as closely as possible. And Claire herself, despite being pregnant, exposes herself and her unborn foetus to this deadly disease!
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) and her husband try to blend in with the nobility of Paris. The husband is so young and pretty-looking that he cannot grow a beard. Perhaps this anachronistic touch, evidently aimed at the Female Gaze of this bodice-ripper's target audience, can be explained in-story by the fact that he had previously lived in Paris. However, his sidekick has a big beard (albeit a well-trimmed one) so he is a much better stereotype of the Scottish Highlander.
Claire meets with some Ladies of the Court. She thinks they are shallow and vain, while agreeing with them that it is a bad idea to have a husband who is old and warty. Meanwhile, Hubby and sidekick are invited to meet Bonnie Prince Charlie, who is hanging out with the old warty husbands in a high-class brothel. Naturally, Hubby and Sidekick realise that Claire is right. Charlie is incompetent, and any Rising that he commands is doomed to failure.
They are invited to a party at the Court of King Louis in Versailles. Louis has problems of his own. He delegates everything to his Chief Minister, a sexually adventurous man who gets the wrong idea when he sees Claire's cleavage-enhancing red dress. Also, there is an English aristocrat Lord Sandringham at the Court. He has a history with our heroes, and no good will come of it.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) tries to make herself useful in Paris. She goes to the free hospital, and works as a nurse. The head nun, Frances De La Tour, is very impressed with her basic Twentieth Century medical skills. However, hubby is unhappy about her risking the health of her unborn child. Also, he does not like being abandoned when his wife is having a career as a hobby.
Claire's husband finally gets round to introducing the French Minister to Bonnie Prince Charlie. The good news is, Charlie does not suspect that hubby is undermining the Jacobite plot. The bad news is, Charlie claims to have other sources of funding. Hubby must steal and then decode the letters Charlie got from his secret allies.
All the social contacts that Claire meets turn out to be essential to the plot. The head nun is a pianist who is pen-pals with Johann Sebastian Bach. The young Englishwoman, Sally Hawkins, is destined to be distant grandmother of Claire's future husband. The English aristocrats at the French King's party last week were part of the conspiracy.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) and her husband decide to throw a dinner party for Bonnie Prince Charlie. They plan to trick him into humiliating himself in front of his financiers, so that they will see his rebellion is doomed to failure.
The French aristocrat from Outlander [Season 2, Episode 1] Through a Glass, Darkly is still in town. He is the prime suspect when Claire gets a mild case of poisoning, and may also be responsible for other attacks on her person. That said, the local criminal element seem to know and fear Claire as La Dame Blanche. Perhaps the Englishman Lord Sandringham is up to no good. After all, he certainly seems untrustworthy enough.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) tries to sort out the legal difficulties from the previous episode. The bad news is, the male secretary is in the Bastille. The good news is, the English girl was not meant to marry him anyway. The bad news is that her actual fated husband, the villainous Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies - Game of Thrones ), is in Paris too.
The beardy Scottish Highlander goes looking for the rape gang. He has a lead - they may be regulars at the high-class whore-house. Strangely, the suspicion is still that the French aristocrat was behind the attack. This is illogical, because if the attackers had intended to target Claire then why would they be surprised when they realised who she was?
Bonnie Prince Charlie has been abandoned by his supporters. However, the disasterous 1745 rebellion has not yet been averted. The French aristocrat has offered him an investment opportunity. Charlie gets Claire's husband to act as intermediary. After all, he is nominally in charge of his cousin's wine business. Naturally he plots to ruin the business deal. It never occurs to him that the Frenchman has planned a double-cross of some kind.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) has her husband pull out of his duel with Randall (Tobias Menzies - Game of Thrones ). The hairy Highlander is confused by this decision, so Claire has her hubby explain everything about the time-travel to him. The discussion in Outlander [Season 2, Episode 2] Not in Scotland Anymore had implied that he already knew, but apparently not.
The French King has instituted a crackdown on magic-users, and Claire knows that being branded a witch La Dame Blanche will put her on the death list. She warns her friend the apothecary to get out of town, although he tells her that the crackdowns usually blow over. After all, the King's father Louis XIV repealed the Edict of Nantes and drove the Hugenots out of France. This brings out the fact that the glamourous portrayal of the Jacobite conspiracy is in many ways similar to the Lost Cause of the American Confederacy. Both are explored in Alternate Universe/Counterfactual literature, but the fact is that they did not deserve to survive. History is written by the victors, but more importantly modern democracy was created by the victors too. If the Confederacy or the Jacobites had won, today the English-speaking world would be living in a dictatorship.
Bonnie Prince Charlie's fundraising depends on the French aristocrat's wine being delivered. Claire's first plan is to make the ship's crew think they have smallpox. Naturally, the aristocrat tries to cover things up. Hubby gets called in to help, and gets given the responsibility of moving the potentially infected wine. As a result he has to arrange a convenient highway robbery. Unfortunately the aristocrat is unhappy about not getting paid, despite the fact that distributing smallpox-infected wine would get everyone involved brutally executed.
Claire is jealous of the men. They go out and do some fighting, while she is stuck in a soap-opera subplot involving the other women. She tries to start a communist revolution, but the women are so deep in their Dangerous Liaisons gossiping (after all, it was the original Sex in the City) that their response to the deep poverty of Parisian citizens is reminiscent of Queen Marie Therese' famous quote Let them eat pie-crust.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) ends up in hospital, with the King's Royal executioner looking after her. The blood loss does not do her any favours, and she is in a bad way.
Claire's husband is locked in the Bastille for the crime of dueling. Fergus finally comes clean about the reason for the duel, which turns out to be more mistaken identity than deliberate antagonism on behalf of Black Jack. However, to get her husband freed Claire must have a personal encounter with the French King. Worse, he wants her to preside in a secret trial over two men accused of witchcraft. One is an ally, the other is an enemy - but will the King get to execute someone?
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) and her husband have been successful in France. They got a Pardon from King George, courtesy of a favour from the French King, and they are now back home in Scotland.
Our heroes had successfully thwarted Bonnie Prince Charlie's plans for an uprising. Without funding or French allies, his Jacobite rebellion has no chance. However, Charlie realises that he does not need any of that. He publishes a public announcement with a list of signatures from his Scottish supporters. Claire's husband is shocked to discover that his own name has been forged on it. Therefore it is possible that most or even ALL the signatures have been forged. After all, the whole rebellion is founded on wishful thinking.
Claire's husband has drunk the Jacobite kool-aid. Despite knowing that Charlie has none of the essentials actually required for success, he gives in to the same wishful thinking and goes off to help the rebels. His first stop is at the castle of his father's father, Lord Lovat. Unfortunately his mother's brother, Mackenzie ( ) is there too.
Claire accompanies her husband, and helps his cause. The local superstitions about witchcraft play a major role. A maidservant is indebted to Claire over an accusation and a witch-trial in Season One. Also, Lord Lovat has a seeress who can apparently predict the future.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) joins her husband's army in camp. However, she has PTSD because of flashbacks to her role as an army nurse in the Normandy offensive in 1944. Back then, the soldiers did not think they should stay clear of bright fires at night - even though the fire would easily silhouette someone as an easy target for the enemy. And does Claire give this wonderful piece of advice to her husband?
Claire's Hubby Lord Broch Turoch wants to train his men as soldiers. While he has served as an officer on the continent, and is familiar with French bayonet drills, his uncle is in town and prefers the highland charge. Who will prevail?
Strangely the Jacobites keep using the revisionist view of their uprising, They refer to their enemies as the British, and imply their their own goal merely concerns Scotland. In reality, Scotland is part of Britain and the Jacobites wanted the British throne. To do so, they were willing to destroy Parliamentary democracy and murder their political opponents. In other words, they were the true villains of the piece.
Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army are camped on a hilltop overlooking the Hanoverian forces. Between them is a boggy marshland. Claire's Hubby Lord Broch Turoch sends his favourite uncle down alone to check if the ground is safe.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) organises a field hospital for the Jacobites. Charlie orders that, to foster the spirit of reconciliation when he wins, the British wounded should be treated before the Jacobites. This is ironic, because while Charlie acknowledges that his goal is the throne of Britain (AKA England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) he ignores the fact that the Jacobites were British Citizens. Broch Turoch complains that the British have never cared for the Scots - again, forgeting that the Scots are part of Britain. The most important part, in fact, because Charlie Stuart's ancestor James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England was the one who united the thrones of the Three Kingdoms.
The Jacobites use cover of night and fog to launch a sneak attack. Despite all the pike and musket drill last week, they use the Highland Charge. Charlie wants to accompany the men, along with his General and the Quartermaster. Yes, instead of staying in the safety of the headquarters he wants to endanger the revolt's commanders by venturing unnecessarily into harm's way.
Fergus the page-boy wants to join the Highlanders. He claims he can sneak into General Wade's tent and steal his sword. However, things did not end well the last time he snuck into a redcoat's room. Meanwhile Uncle Mackenzie, the bloodthirsty Highlander, is not keen on taking prisoners. This is at odds with Charlie's policy. Will Broch Turoch be able to put things right?
Charlie's army gets as far as Manchester. Soon, walking at thirty miles a day, they are only five days march from London. However, the General and the Quartermaster agree that they must retreat to Scotland. Jamie Broch Turoch is the only voice of dissent, aware that they must continue to London if they are to change the timeline. As a result, the senior officers have Jamie ordered back to Inverness.
Jamie's unit is ambushed by redcoats, and the survivors get scattered. Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) has to pretend to be a hostage again, and ends up a guest of the redcoats. They take her to a nearby country mansion, where she meets some old acquaintances.
This episode basically ties up a few loose ends from the Paris storyline. Everything is quite predictable.
Bonnie Prince Charlie and his revolting Jacobites have retreated to Cullodden. In a couple of days time they will meet the far superior Hanoverian army. Jamie does everything he can to talk the Prince out of a suicidal frontal assault.
Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) joins young Mary, who has been tending to her dying lover. Yes, somehow in the last five months with the Jacobite Army she has hooked up with a Hanoverian officer. Unfortunately he is dying of tuberculosis, and there is no way Claire can cure him. She must ensure that Mary marries the evil Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies - Game of Thrones ) so the timestream is unbroken. However, Jack is unaccountably reluctant to marry her.
Back in the Jacobite camp, there is another dying man reunited with his brother. Jamie's two uncles, brothers of his mother, say their goodbyes.
This takes place in 1968, to close the bookend that opened in 1948. Claire ( Caitriona Balfe ) returns to Scotland to attend the Reverend's funeral. She is wearing makeup intended to make her look twenty years older, but she looks a lot better than she did in the 1745 scenes. Her husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies - Game of Thrones ) has passed away, but she brings her daughter Brianna with her. Brianna befriends the Reverend's adopted son, although they are both descended from MacKenzies so they are distantly related.
Brianna is meant to be a tall American with a Boston accent. The actress is an average English girl attempting a MidWest American accent. One would think that, for an American show produced by Ron Moore ( Battlestar Galactica ) they could have gotten an actress who actually sounds like a Bostonian. Think of the accent used by Michael Weston in Burn Notice.
A rabid Scottish Nationalist ( Lotte Verbeek ) is in town, preaching radical revisionist history. She is opposed to Queen Anne for being an Anglican Episcopalianism, but she believes the myth that Bonnie Prince Charlie was a true Scotsman who wanted to seperate Scotland from the rest of Britain. Even worse, it turns out that she thinks human sacrifice is necessary to create time-travel.