Previously on Outlander, Claire thought she would be allowed to go back to Inverness BUT was thwarted by Colum MacKenzie who made her the castle’s chief healer (and prisoner but one who gets a medical practice instead of a dungeon cell).
This week we start not in the 18th century, but with Frank saying goodbye to Claire as she goes off to the front-line. Frank would like to use his connections to keep Claire at home but she points out that it isn’t fair to the men who are going to give their lives for Britain. As Claire and the train move away from Frank he makes her promise to come after him. The show is doing a really great job of building up the Randalls’ marriage so that we really want Claire to go back to Frank even though Jamie is hot auburn haired and wears a kilt.
Back in 1743 Claire is taking very cold bucket shower with help of Mrs. Fitz. After the shower while Mrs. Fitz is futzing with Claire’s hair, while Claire daydreams about telling Fitz about falling through time. This does not go well with Mrs. Fitz, who accuses her of being a witch (thank goodness it’s only a daydream). In reality, Mrs. Fitz is really telling Claire about the clan gathering that is about to happen and how happy she is that Claire is there to help with all of the extra medical ailments the visitors will bring. She also mentions that this could help Claire.
Claire agrees that getting into the clan’s good graces is her only means of getting home. She sets about inventorying and going through all that has remained from the old healer and tries to think of ways to utilize 20th century medical practices with 18th century items (thank god Claire was an amateur herbalist). She is also still being guarded by Dougal’s men, who, realizing how boring watching a person clean and see patients is, end up sneaking off to get drunk in the kitchens. In the kitchen Claire learns that Colum’s chambermaid’s son has died from a visit to an ancient ruin that local legend has it is possessed by demons –FUN! Claire is summoned to see Colum by Fitz’s nephew Thomas who also happens to be (or was) the dead boys BFF.
Claire goes to talk to Colum but first witnesses the severely crippled but no less lethal Scot threaten a coat-maker who DARED to make the coat longer than normal to shield the world from the MacKenzie’s legs. Claire massages Colum in an effort to help his movement and ease his bed as the last castle healer did. Claire is happy to help Colum since she is on a “treat the sick to gain my freedom” mission. We are treated to a vision of Colum’s bare bum. She does a good enough job to get invited to the hall to listen to some music.
In the hall, Claire sits with Laoghaire and invites Jamie to sit with them in an attempt to be matchmaker for Laoghaire (that Claire she is a helpful lassie). This attempt fails because Jamie only has eyes for Claire. She has had several glasses of wine and is a tad tipsy (or drunk). Jamie escorts the drunk Claire to surgery and he continues to flirt shamelessly with her (Claire kind of flirts with him too –what about Frank, Claire?). Though Claire is drunk she does check out Jamie’s shoulder because she is good at her job. They also have a brief moment over Jamie’s flogging scars (as much as I love Frank I kind of need these two to bone –it was the same with the book too, a race to Claire and Jamie sex).
Claire and one of her guards go to the herb garden for Claire to meet Geilie Duncan. Geilie let’s Claire know that Thomas, Mrs. Fitz’s nephew, is possessed and that the local priest is going to perform an exorcism. Claire is able to examine the boy but not treat him. On their way to town her guard Angus (thank you IMDB) tells her that neither Calum nor Dougal would appreciate her interfering with the church but Claire who is beginning to learn that the Highlands are very religious informs Angus that a priest once called her healing a gift from god. When they get back to the castle Angus stops at the kitchen to get another bottle of booze and Claire sees Jamie snogging Laoghaire (Jamie sees Claire looking and smiles –Jamie is playing with fire).
At dinner Claire teases Jamie in the cafeteria for making out with Mrs. Fitz’s granddaughter. Jamie is embarrassed and leaves. Murtagh Jamie’s BFF gives Claire a speech on Jamie needing a wife whose a WOMAN not a GIRL (aka Laoghaire) and how Claire shouldn’t tease because if Laoghaire’s family were to find out Jamie would have to marry her. Despite my joke above about them getting together sooner rather than later I enjoy the shows handling of the Claire and Jamie friendship. The show is establishing them as equals in the interests and pursuits as well as their circumstances at Castle Leoch. She is a prisoner of Calum until he learns he can trust her AND as we saw from last weeks trial though Jamie is family he is NOT a favorite of either uncle. Both are in peril NOT just Claire for being a woman in a strange land and Jamie is in actual peril all of the time since he is wanted by the British for murder. After Murtagh’s speech Claire has a god cry for Frank missing not only him but the intimacy they had (I bet she misses his fun facts TOO). Dougal witnesses this and offers to take her to town the next day to hang out with Geilie.
Geilie and Claire hang out and smash herbs. Geilie also tries to get Claire to spill dirt. I LOVE Geilie, she is both mysterious and an asshole. It’s never clear if anything out of her mouth is serious or if she is just fucking with Claire. We meet Geilie’s flatulent husband who is basically the town’s judge. He is about to decide the fate of a boy caught stealing. Geilie uses her feminine wiles on her husband to keep the boy from losing a hand. Geilie convinces the judge to just nail the kids ear to the pillory –both Claire and I are happy the kid keeps his hand but still appalled about the ear. The other characters, especially Geilie are starting to think that Claire’s home in Oxfordshire is completely bizarre since she is always so shocked by what they seem as everyday life. Jamie comes to pick up Claire and saves her from having to spill all of her secrets to Geilie. Jamie and Claire worked together to save the boy from having to rip his ear off the nail.
On their way home Claire has Jamie take her to the demon infested ruins. While there they flirt a bit and then Claire finds the poisonous Lily-of-the-Valley which looks like wood garlic which the boys probably ate. Claire goes and saves Thomas BUT makes an enemy of the priest. One of the chief highlights of Outlander, both book and television series, is that Claire never once feigns naivety or victimhood in her predicament or as a tactic for release, as she could no more hide her intelligence than her womanhood. It’s the reason she had to fix Jamie’s arm and takes her job at the castle seriously even though she is really a prisoner with a nice room. “The Way Out” is a very interesting episode because Claire tries to use her medical skills as a way to buy trust and thus freedom from Calum but instead only further entrenched into life at Castle Leoch as a prized healer. Basically I’m just always pleased when women get to use their brains AND not sexual wiles. Claire owns her sexuality but would NEVER use it to try to gain her freedom (most likely because that is a trope fostered by male writers).
The episode ends with Claire hopeless as to how to get back to the stones. She sits with Jamie in the hall listening to the musician (and drowning her sorrows in booze) from the night before but her hope is restored as she listens to Jamie translate the tail the troubadour is singing about a person trying to get back home because she touched the rocks from hell.