Jen- Episode Ten Review: By the Pricking of My Thumbs

This is a tough one for me. On the first viewing I didn’t love it. On the second viewing I liked a lot of individual scenes, but the whole episode didn’t gel together into a cohesive whole for me. I definitely get distracted the first time I watch every episode by the book discrepancies, and waiting for special book moments. I end up really enjoying all of them much more once I’m settled into a repeat viewing (what? I am fine with the choices I make in my life!).


Image belongs to Starz, from

So, the main point of this episode felt like it was moving people around to get them into position for next week. When I think about it, I do see how the show had to be broken down into chunks of episode-length stories, and there are a lot of parts of the book that exist in Claire’s head that don’t translate well to tv. So I get that they are working in a different medium and things need to change. Mostly, I am fine rolling with the changes and I think they make the story stronger.

Things I loved about this episode:

-The Duke of Sandringham was fantastic. Simon Callow is just perfect in that role, and I think it really serves the story well to have spent some time with the Duke. In the book he’s totally off-screen, and Claire never confronts him in a totally badass way. Loved that Claire went and stood toe to toe with him.

-Ned Gowan has a really expanded role in the show. I am a law librarian, so I’m a little biased, but I like the level-headed practicality he brings, while always finding some useful loophole. Lawyers fightin’ the good fight!

-THOSE JACKETS. Both Claire’s and Geilis’. OMG. I need some replica jackets. Starz, money can be made here!

-I thought Geilis’ reveals (pregnancy, Dougal, the Duke taking Jacobite gold) worked really well to move the plot. I loved that Claire used that knowledge to go threaten the Duke.

-Jamie and Claire. Every scene with them together, perfection! They are truly fiction’s greatest romance.

-The MacDonald post-duel brawl was pretty great. Especially the Duke being like “tell your wife this wasn’t my fault” and then running away.

Things that didn’t work for me:

-Claire confronting Laoghaire. I mean, really, Claire, how did you think that was going to go? Not well!

-How did Claire even sneak out of the castle in the middle of the night to go watch Geilis’ witchy moon dance? Jamie sleeps really lightly and is ready to spring into action dirk-in-hand, but Claire snuck out of their bedroom and out of the castle that she desperately wanted to escape from earlier in the season, no problem?

-Dougal’s crazy freak-out. It felt kind of shoe-horned in. I totally get why they ended up doing that- they needed a legit reason to get Jamie and the dudes away from the castle for a while, and in the book they go away to go hunting with the Duke. Since the Duke scenario went down a different way here, they needed to construct something. And Graham McTavish did some fine acting and really committed to that scene. He did a good job! It just seemed… off for the character and the episode.

-Wish they could have worked in Claire’s waking up in the middle of the night yelling “Horrocks!’ and Jamie waking up befuddled wondering why she was yelling about hedgehogs. Such a cute moment. And I believe in that book scene Claire discovers that her inn bed was infested with bed bugs. Because of course it was. Olden times were kinda gross.

Huh. See, in retrospect, there isn’t that much in the episode that didn’t work for me.


-Did old timey people really make such abbreviated signs of the cross? Like, I guess they did them so often that it was perfunctory and didn’t have to be a full on thing? I grew up kind of churchy, and I’m just used to the sign of the cross being a forehead-chest-shoulders deal.

-Would it have been surprising in that time period that a woman could read a big old legal document like the petition of complaint? Or did they just assume that since Claire is obviously so smart it was not surprising she could read?

Alright, that’s all I’ve got.

Next week’s preview has me so excited! It looks like it’s going to cover my favorite scene of the book (my second favorite scene of the entire series, really, second only to a big moment in the third book). Don’t mess around with the glorious and amazing lines in this one, show, please!


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