Outlander Episode 103 opens with a flashback scene where Frank and Claire are in their military uniforms in the trains station. Claire has received an assignment to work on the front lines as a field nurse, and Frank is trying to convince her to let him call in a favor to get her assignment changed, but she won’t let him. Claire says “Welcome to the 20th Century” in regards to the her, as the wife, going off to war and leaving her husband behind. He says “Promise you’ll return to me”, which is foreshadowing on her future time traveling escapade.
In the next scene, Mrs. Fitz is washing and dressing Claire for the day. Fitz remarks that Claire has the most beautiful skin she’s ever seen on a woman her age, and that her next husband would be very lucky. Claire hesitantly tells Fitz about her time travel plight, by starting out with explaining that her husband, Frank, has not yet been born. Mrs. Fitz looks very confused, and after getting over the initial shock of what Claire is saying, she tries to get out of the room, calling Claire a witch. After Fitz slaps her, we realize that this has been a daydream for Claire, by where she’s pondering what would happen if she revealed her secrets.
In reality, Mrs. Fitz IS attending to Claire, and grooming her hair while talking about the upcoming Clan Gathering. she muses that she’s glad that Claire will be around to help with the “physiking” and handling the ailments of guests. Mrs. Fits compliments her on her skills, and does her best to impress upon Claire that they will get her into Colum’s good graces.
After Claire has been dressed, we see her working in the castle’s apothecary/surgery. Her VoiceOver ponders how she can apply her knowledge of 20th century medicine with the 18th century tools at hand. As she cleans out the belongings of Davie Beaton, the castle’s former healer, she is horrified by some of the surgery’s contents, such as wood lice and pigeon’s blood, that had apparently been used previously as healing agents. Angus begins to guard her, has begun to spend his time in the kitchen while she attends to patients. Her VoiceOver remarks that this is a good sign and that he must have begun to start trusting her. The show depicts Claire attending to various patients, like a sick child and an older man, in a few short clips, which gives the audience a glimpse of the tender passion she has for medically tending others as well as her gentle touch. Joyful fiddle music plays during this part of of the show to emphasize the joy she gets from exercising her talents.
Claire walks into the kitchen to seek out Rupert and Angus to ask them to remove the waste materials and useless medicines from the surgery room. A maid suddenly drops something then bursts into tears, and Mrs. Fitz runs to her side to comfort her. After Fitz sends the weeping woman home to rest, Mrs. Fitz explains that the maids young son, Lindsey MacNeil, had died that morning. Fitz and the two men both attribute the boy’s death to evil, and mention that he had been roaming around up at the “Black Kirk”. They cross themselves as they mention it, which yields a glimpse into the Highlanders’ marriage of religious beliefs and superstition. Fitz’s nephew, the Baxter boy, comes to get Claire because Colum wishes to see her. Although she has been visibly disturbed by the news of the MacNeil boy’s death, she draws herself up and firmly reminds the two men to dispose of the junk in the surgery. They agree with her and act like they are about to get up to do her bidding. Instead, they sit back down and laugh as they refill their tankards with beer after she leaves the room.
In the next scene, Claire enters Colum’s study to see him being fitted for a coat by a tailor from Edinburgh. There is a stark contrast in their appearances. Claire’s VoiceOver mentions that she wishes desperately that she could help Colum because she knows his condition causes him a great deal of pain. The tailor has made the coat ankle length, rather that the customary below-the-knee length, and the tailor condescending implies that he thought Colum would want to hide his disease-deformed legs. The tailor comments “You’re barely standing now, are you man?” to Colum, who then takes great offense and put the tailor in his place, as Claire looks on. With a dirk in his hand, Colum orders the tailor to make him a standard frock and have it ready by the next day. A sinister key plays in the background to emphasize the seriousness of offending the Laird.
After the tailor leaves, Colum asks Claire if she will massage his legs to help ease the pain, as Davie Beaton had in the past for him. She agrees and he asks her in a much gentler voice than he had used with the tailor if his legs offended her. She said no, but that she believed that rubbing the base of his spine would yield better pain relief. He pulls up his shift to the waist while lying on his stomach on the table, and playfully asks her if “his ass offends her, too”. She smirks and begins working on his pain, and advises that using moist heat after the massage would be helpful. He says his maid isn’t their to boil water for him because her son (Lindsey MacNeil) had died that morning. Claire expresses her sympathy and Colum says that the boy’s death was Satan’s work. He then asks Claire if they have demons in Oxfordshire, where she comes from. She says “Yes, and that they call them Scots”. He laughs at this, then pauses to moan in response to her massaging, saying she is bringing him great relief. In a gesture of appreciation for her help, Colum invites her to be his guest that evening in the Great Hall to hear Gwyllin the musician play before the Gathering, which she graciously accepts.
The scene then transitions to the Gathering in the Great Hall, where Claire is drinking wine in a doorway observing the room. Dougal walks up to her and innocently comments that Colum looks well and that he’s heard it’s because of her ‘healing touch’. She looks pleased until he describes her as a feral cat that he found and is now getting into their coats. Her expression reveals her displeasure with this remark and excuses herself to get a better view of the singer. Claire sits down on a bench near the front of the room, and very soon thereafter, Laoghaire sits down next to her. Claire introduces herself to Laoghaire, and makes knowing comments about Jamie “cutting a fine figure”, trying to develop a female bond with her. Laoghaire agrees, but wistfully says that it’s not her that Jamie fancies. Claire says that women are there to help me. Know what they want. Jamie comes over and sits between the two women. Claire tries to get Jamie to compliment Laoghaire. Jamie absently agrees, without even looking at Laoghaire, that she’s “Bonny”. Laoghaire mentions that she remembers him from when he was at the castle several years back, and Jamie says he doesn’t remember her. She’s visibly crushed, and he adds that a 16 year-old wouldn’t have likely paid attention to a “rabble of snot-nosed yins”. Claire hits him on the arm with the back of her hand trying to signal that he’s being rude and insensitive, but this seemingly goes unnoticed. Jamie comments that he impressed that Claire’s able to handle as much of Colum’s Rhenish as she has consumed. He says that he needs Claire to go help him with something and hands Claire’s empty glass to Laoghaire and asks her to “take that back with ye, lass” as he dashes off with Claire. Jamie accompanies Claire to the apothecary/surgery because he knows she’s tipsy and is worried that she won’t be able to find her way back to it (or that a drunken guest might make a move on her)but under the guise of having her remove the bandages. They are both openly flirting with one another, and she asks him why he didn’t ask her to remove them at the stables the other day.
He says he couldn’t of done that in front of Alec, and she realizes that he doesn’t want Alec to see the flogging scars on his back. He says he doesn’t want Alec to feel sorry for him and treat him differently. Claire asks if he minds her having seen them, and he says no, because she has a way of letting him know she’s sorry for what happened to him without making him feel like she pities him. She checks his wound before he leaves, and their chemistry is palpable as she unties his shirt.
In the next scene, Angus is hurrying after Claire as she speed walks through the castle gardens to meet Geillis. He comments that she never sits still. When she comes upon Grillis, they begin picking berries together and talking about the fact that the Baxter boy has taken ill in the same way that Lindsey MacNeil had done. Geillis says that it’s thought he is possessed now, just as MacNeil was. Claire violently rejects this and Geillis says that it doesn’t matter if it’s true if everyone else believes it. She says that she won’t go near the Baxter house and advises that Claire do the same. Claire ignores this as she hurries off to examine the boy. Angus runs behind her, griping and asking where they’re now going.
When Claire arrives at the Baxter house, she finds the boy bound to the bed, not running fever, pale and unresponsive. Her VoiceOver makes mental notes about his condition and predicts that he has eaten something poisonous. Father Bain enters the home at this point in order to rid the boy of the demon through exorcism. Claire watches for a moment, rolls her eyes and leaves. She goes back to the castle, with Angus, all the while mentally trying to decide how to help the Baxter child. When they enter the castle, Angus tells her to sit done and wait on him while he goes in the kitchen, and she’s so lost in her own thoughts that she complies. While sitting there, she looks up to see Jamie and Laoghaire sweep into a nearby alcove and start kissing. Jamie makes brief eye contact with Claire and shrugs as he goes about his business. Claire is obviously rattled by witnessing this, and Angus returns at this time. He mentions that it doesn’t hurt her to obey every once and awhile and as she walks off he follows and acts like he’s commanding her to move, when he obviously has little control over her.
Soon thereafter, Claire sees Jamie in the Great Hall at supper and teases him from across the table about seeing him kiss Laoghaire. He tries to step on her foot under the table and she kicks him back. He’s visibly embarrassed and angered from her veiled teasing, and excuses himself from the table. Murtagh slides over to where Jamie had been sitting and calls her out about teasing him. He shames her, and says that Jamie needs a woman and not a lassie… And that Laoghaire will be a lassie until she’s 50. Murtagh also says that Claire knows the difference between the two and implies that she should act like a woman and not a little girl by teasing Jamie.
She leaves supper and cries outside of the castle. Her VoiceOver talks about being jealous of the intimacy that she witnessed between Jamie and Laoghaire, and not being jealous of Laoghaire. Dougal calls out to her from afar and asks if she would like to go to Geillis’ house in the village the next day to get herbs for the Gathering. She accepts.
When she visits Geillis in her home, Claire recounts the scene of the Baxter boy’s sickbed and Father Bain’s efforts.
Geillis advises Claire to steer clear for Bain… That he has no mercy in his heart and believes that all women are temptresses that should be beaten by their husbands daily. Claire and Geillis then see a crowd following a boy being brough to the pillory. Claire is horrified, and Geillis says that he was probably caught stealing… Her husband, Arthur, will dispense the punishment. The severity will depend on the current state of his bowel condition. Arthur comes in then asking for peppermint from Geillis. He’s portly and repelling, but wears the white wig of government. Claire speaks to him and he looks at Geillis to explain Claire’s identity. Geillis says she from up at the castle, and he assesses her with a shrewd eye. Claire is visibly disgusted by his boisterous bodily noises, like frequent flatulence. She makes a case for the boy at the pillory. Arthur looks annoyed and blows her off. Geillis comes to him and begins to coo to him seductively, almost bewitching him, and convince him to go easier on the boy. He agrees and says that he will only give the boy a nail through the ear, although Bain was pushing for removal of his hand. As he leaves, farting all the while, Geillis rolls her eyes about Arthur and says he has no notion of guile.
Claire watches through the window as the boy is nailed to the pillory, and the soundtrack uses malevolent-sounding music to emphasize the brutal horror at hand. The bad sound goes away after Bain leaves, having “absolved” the boy from sin. Geillis asks Claire why she is so horrified by the punishments, and whether they didn’t have pillories where she came from…. Geillis also hints that she may have an idea that Claire may have an even more interesting origin than anyone else might think. She begins slyly prying into Claire’s past and Jamie arrives at precisely the right moment to rescue her from this line of uncomfortable inquiry to return to the castle for supper. Claire is noticeably relieved, but Geillis tries to bait Jamie into staying longer so the conversation can continue. He declines and they head off for the castle.
As they leave, Claire asks him to set the boy at the pillory free so that he doesn’t have to tear himself loose from the nail in his ear. He agrees and Claire pretends to faint as a distraction while Jamie pulls the nail from the boys ear and sends him home. She thanks him and then asks him for one more favor… To take her to the infamous “Black Kirk”. After agreeing to take her, they go and explore the site, which had been built by monks. She asks Jamie if he believes that demons actually live there, and he says that even though he’s an educated man, he doesn’t like tempting fate by talking bad about the devil in his own Kirk. He mentions that other boys had died there over the years, and that it was a rite of passage to prove you were man enough to survive coming to the Black Kirk. She asks him what they did when they came up there, and among other things, like “pissing on stones” he mentioned that some of them liked to eat the “wood garlic” that grew there. Claire asks him to show it to her, and when he does, she realizes that it’s in fact Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous.
After realizing that this may have been what made the Baxter boy sick, she rushes back to his house. She tells his mother and Mrs. Fitz that she can save his life.
Bain turns around from where he was performing an exorcism on the boy and calls it blasphemy. Claire boldly goes head to head with him and Mrs. Fitz demands that Bain allow Claire to attend the boy. Bain says that he won’t be ordered around by a woman and Mrs. Fitz sets him straight, saying that she would determine what went on in her own house. Bain grabs Claire’s shoulder as she approaches the Baxter boy and tells her that he smells the vapors of hell on her… She shakes him off and begins to give the boy the Belladona concoction that she describes in her VoiceOver. It successfully acts as an antidote to the poison, and Fitz and the boy’s mother are elated. Mrs. Fitz tells Claire “God Bless You” as Bain huffily grabs his things to leave, saying that Satan tries to make a mockery of God in ways like this.
In a later scene, Claire sits at the stables and talks while Jamie dresses a horse. He tells her that Mrs. Fitz has been calling her a miracle worker, to which Claire rolls her eyes and says “Good Lord”. She says that she hopes Colum will now trust her… Jamie says that he thinks Colum won’t let her leave because she’s now considered so valuable to the Clan, which leaves her dismayed.
As she enters the Great Hall later that evening, her VoiceOver says that she almost stayed in her room instead of going there to avoid the stares of those curious about the healing. Jamie runs to get her so that she will sit with him. He begins to translate the song that Gwyllin is singing for the audience. It’s the Scottish folktale about women who time travel through the stones on the “fairy hills”, and she listens, she realizes that it’s very similar to HER story. It gives her hope of going back through the stones to her proper time and Frank, and she knows that she must do everything in her power to get back to the stones.
Previously published on www.herd-management.com