Here we go again!
I guess some stuff happened in this episode, but after two episodes of Excitement! Danger! Swordplay! this one is a bit of a let down. Looking about at other recaps to try to remember what happened revealed a whole lot of discussion of the opening scene, wherein Jamie plays Claire’s cello.
Here’s a cat demonstrating:
So when the lasting impact of your episode comes from something that happened in the opening scene and your runners up are 1) dancing in the dark and 2) coats, there’s not a hell of a lot to talk about. This was a “moving the football” episode, the sort of play that grimly just moves the plot forward a few yards until 1st down and a new strategy can develop.
Look at me all using a football analogy!
Outlander has a handful of plots that it follows to advance the story and this episode deals with all of them, so no wonder it’s so disjointed. The show tries to bring stuff together, but really Claire and Jamie are off doing their own things.
Plot the First: Jamie vs the Legal System
As the show occasionally recalls when it needs stuff to happen and dudes to yell at each other, Jamie has a price on his head for a murder he didn’t commit. He probably has more of a price on his head for breaking, entering, and partially blowing up and English fort, but whatever, for some reason this one particular murder that happened before the show started is more important than the other people Jamie has killed/assaulted since the cameras started rolling.
Ned, aka Sad Ben Franklin, has a plan. Maybe they can get Jamie off the hook if the main guy on his case, Black Jack Rackham, is sent away for Crimes Of Extreme Jerkitude or something. Why nobody smacks Ned upside his head and demands to know why he didn’t bring this up before the disastrous meeting with the jerk deserter, I have no idea. Dude is seriously not good at his job.
Anyways, for the Writ of Jerkitude to stand, they need the backing of someone with influence in court. Luckily, the Duke of Sandringham is on his way! And he’s more than just a goofy name! He’s a goofy person, too! Claire tries to stay involved in the plot by using her Powers of Future Knowledge (and flashbacks, which since she’s remembering something that didn’t happen yet, are technically flashforwards) to blackmail the Duke into abandoning his boy Rackham and getting with the hero, Jamie.
While I admire Claire for not getting drunk upon meeting with the Duke (she’s learning!), I do question what her plan was (beyond staying involved in this subplot). She meets with the Duke without Jamie knowing and threatens the fop with “help the Jacobites or I’ll tell everyone that you help the Jacobites.” I guess this works because the Duke is one of those bored, world-weary fops, the sort that has a scribe recording all his witticisms, and he wants to enjoy the dog-and-a-bicycle show that is Claire trying to scheme. What would have happened if the Duke was all like “Nope. Also, thanks for telling me you came here alone. Sorry to hear about your impending ambush on your way back to Castle Mudflap.”? Does Claire have any leverage beyond her word? A word, remember, that would not be backed up by her claiming to be a minor noble or whatever because a creature of court like the Duke would have seen right through it.
But the Duke knows the show must go on, so he agrees to help Claire on the condition that Jamie appear in that duel scene we’ve been seeing in the opening credits for the past few months. Jamie does so and though he manages to avoid a shoulder wound, he does pick up a bunch of all over wounds when he cheeses off the rival clan that the Duke was dueling against. Note that they play the same jaunty, upbeat music for Jamie fighting three dudes that they did when he whipped Claire with a belt. Just sayin.
Still, Jamie’s service pleases the Duke and the fop snatches the Writ from the Highlander’s bleeding form and scampers off to hold up his end of the bargain. Of course, Jamie has now angered the Clan McDonalds, so look forward to the Hamburgler creeping into Castle Mudflap late at night with murder in mind.
Plot the Second: Claire vs. Friendship
Claire decides to play the heavy and starts smacking Larry around for leaving her poorly made crafts under other people’s beds. Larry gawps a bit but then climbs out on the insult limb of “No, YOU shut up!” before boasting that she didn’t make that Etsy disaster at all – she bought it from Crazy Eyes!
Despite this being a show about a person who fell through time after touching some magic rocks, neither Claire nor the show itself give any credibility to magic. Something magic happened to Claire and rather dwell on it and actually suspect people who claim to be witches are, she rolls her eyes and barely plays along. (Actually, she usually rolls her eyes then calls everyone else backwards monster who stick sick babies in trees thinking they’re changelings rather than trying to cure them.) So why would Claire, who does not believe in magic, seek out Crazy Eyes, who Claire knows does not have magical powers, to ask about the ‘Ill Wish,’ that Claire knows is literally a bundle of twigs and mud?
Because the costume designer made Geillis “Crazy Eyes” Duncan a rockin coat, that’s why.
But a coat that awesome requires so backstory, so the show has to establish that Crazy Eyes needs a coat. They do this by having her writhe around in the woods naked. Claire, who can never resist a woody dance-off, creeps up and creeps out watching another woman get down with nature. Also, turns out Geillis is pregnant with Dougal’s kids because of course she is.
THEN we get to see the coats. They’re pretty awesome. There’s some stuff with a dead baby on a hill but who can think of that when there’s fur linings to admire?
Oh, and Dougal’s wife dropped dead at some point. Dougal has a big ole freak out about it, but the woman died as she lived – offscreen – so who cares, right? I immediately suspect Something’s Up because he’s all tryhard about his grief, but who knows, Dougal’s characterization is so uneven (Master Schemer! Fooled by Streams!) that they could have a scene of him eating a watermelon while roller skating over baby ferrets and it would make about as much sense as whatever weirdo mood swing he’s up to this week.
Anyways, there’s a quick plot crossover as the Duke shows up at Castle Mudflaps to cut into a ceremonial pie or something and Geillis poisons her husband, Mayor MacFart. Claire immediately suspects Geillis, who being mostly eyeballs has a hard time hiding her SHIFTY GLANCES before bursting into tears. Claire says nothing, even though it would take like five minutes of going through Crazy Eyes’ stuff to find the poison (cyanide, which everyone knows smells of bitter almonds, a scent no one has ever smelled even once). Dougal is out of favor with Colum, so why not speak up? Is it because he conveniently became a widower? There is zero investigation into Farty’s death, no doubt because nobody wants to get close to the corpse.
Dougal is exiled and Jamie is sent with him for show reasons. Jamie has to be out of the picture because…
Claire stupidly heads down to Geillis’s hut to confront the murderess? Because a mysterious note said to? Forget it, kid. It’s Show Reasons. Anyways, she ends up there just long enough for the two of them to be arrested for witchcraft.
Is it really that easy to get someone yoinked out of their home and thrown into jail for witchcraft? I mean, I live around the corner from site of the Salem Witch Trials and work around the corner from where one of the “witches” lived and I don’t think it was as easy as pointing at someone and saying “She’s a witch!” even if you do it in a sad kiddie voice with big teary eyes. You need some sort of clout behind you to makes your accusation stick. I wonder from whom doth the clout come?
Surprise! It’s Larry! The girl who knows Claire and Geillis are witches because she bought “spells” from each of them. No doubt, ala Principal Skinner, she was only there to learn how to get away from there.
Still, you go Larry! She who gawps last gawps best!