Tag Archives: Outlander

OUTLANDER Season Two, Will You Be Watching? …#springiscoming

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

It’s no secret that I’m an avid fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, as well as,  Ron D. Moore’s adaptation of the story for television found on the STARZ network in the U.S. and on Showcase here in Canada.

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What probably impressed me the most about Outlander’s first season was how the show’s creators manage to find two actors who were able to step into the roles of Jamie and Claire so effortlessly. I’m sure that was a concern for many fans, as we all had our own visions of Jamie and Claire, and getting the casting right was key if the show was going to get off the ground.

 

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The show’s outstanding scenery, music and the contributions from supporting cast members all came together to make Outlander’s inaugural season a huge success.

Outlander’s story is a long one as those of us who are still reading the series, it has been eight novels and the story is still not over. It’s filled with romance, adventure, and the harsh reality of living in the 18th century which includes a far amount of violence. Near the conclusion of Outlander, the first novel, readers and television viewers alike were presented with a particularly horrific act that for readers of the novel will not soon forget.

As Season 1 came to an end, we all knew what was coming as Jamie was left in the hands of Black Jack Randall in Wentworth Prison. From a pure production point of view, it was an incredibly difficult episode to pull off, the show’s creators did an amazing job. That said, I fear that there are images forever burned into my mind that I will never be able to erase! Okay, perhaps that’s being a little melodramatic, but I’m sure that there are others out there who agree with me.

After many discussions around the proverbial “water-cooler”, I think that despite the rawness of the season finale, most people that I’ve talked with will be tuning into Season 2. I know that I certainly will be, and from the looks of the first trailer for Season 2, the production values certainly appear to be of the highest quality once again. I also have a soft-spot for Dragonfly in Amber, the second novel in the series and as a history major, 18th century Paris was my favourite time period to study.

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So, the question is, will you be watching?

 

 

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#Droughtlander is Over…Finally! GUEST POST

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

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I think that for all of us who are fans of Outlander, the television series, we can all agree that the return of Outlander couldn’t have come soon enough. The second half of the series kicked off with a bang as we were brought right back to where we left off, at the garrison of Fort William where Claire was being held captive by Captain “Black Jack” Randall. This episode, named “The Reckoning”, was different from the first half of the season because there is a change in narration. The episode is told exclusively from Jamie’s point of view. It was a real treat to hear Jamie’s voice as the central focus since the novels are primarily written from Claire’s perspective. All along I’ve really enjoyed the changes that the show’s writers have made because I strongly feel like they have only served to enhance and improve on the storytelling. These changes have given a voice to the thoughts and actions of the other characters in the story. Whether it’s additional scenes, dialogue or even just a lingering focus on a character’s facial expression, the creativity of the show’s writers has filled out the story in new and wonderfully, unexpected ways.

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If you have read the book, then you are well aware that there are some traumatic events to come, and I know that I am eagerly waiting in anticipation to see how the show will deal with the developments between Claire, Jamie and of course, Captain Randall.  One sensitive issue was the spanking scene, which caused much speculation between die-hard fans.  In the book, Jamie had to deliver corporal punishment to his wife for putting all of the Mackenzie men at risk by disobeying his instructions to stay put when he left to confront a deserter from British army who might be able to help clear his name. When the Mackenzie men mounted the attack to rescue Claire from the clutches of Randall, she put everyone’s lives at risk. The show kept very close to the original plot line and I thought that both Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe did a fantastic job pulling off what must have been a difficult scene to navigate.

In Episode 10, “By The Pricking of My Thumbs”, we begin the lead up to a significant twist in the plot that changes the course for Jamie and Claire. There were some excellent scenes and dialogue added that were the perfect complement to the story, such as Dougal’s drunken meltdown upon hearing of his wife’s passing or Laoghaire’s stubborn refusal to accept Jamie’s marriage when Claire confronted her about the ill-wish. There’s also a scene where Claire stumbled upon Geilles conducting a very similar pagan ritual dance that she witnessed at Craigh na Dun the night before she disappeared from Inverness in 1945. We also finally understand how Jamie became involved in a duel, an event that does not occur in Outlander (but does happen later on in in the series). This scene had been in the previews for the second half of the season and it left me wondering how the duel actually came to be.

The episode wraps up with Claire being swept up in the drama surrounding Geilles Duncan, and so once again, Claire’s life is in peril because she didn’t listen to her husband’s advice to stay away from Geilles. Oh the would-have, should-have, could-haves that plague Claire! Even though, I’m well familiar with what is to come, I find myself waiting with great anticipation for the last half of the season to unfold.

Awakening From a Devastating Reading Slump – GUEST POST

GUEST POST – teachergirl73


 After reading Andrea’s humorous post “Auld Lang Syne”, I began to consider my own lack of motivation to pick up a book. I’ve been in a serious reading slump lately, whether it was the hustle and bustle of the holidays, or a bit of the winter blahs, or just simply a bit of “brain freeze” to quote one of my Grade 2 students who was trying to tell me that he had been “thinking” way too hard. While trying to contain my snort of agreement as best as I could, I just empathized with him and assured him that all we needed was the holiday to reboot so to speak. Upon reflection, I think that my reading slump might actually be attributed in part to the demise of a serious literary relationship spanning some fourteen years now.

WMOBI have made many attempts over the past few months to dive into Diana Gabaldon’s latest endeavour Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, the eighth book in the Outlander series, all without success and I finally gave up around mid-December. Even though I consider myself to be a true Outlander fan, for the last three books the only reason why I have continued with the series is because I am held captive, reading in horrified fascination unable to believe what has been done to the story and characters. I feel almost disloyal writing this, not to the author, but to the series itself. The story should have ended after the third book, Voyager, but by then there was a voracious audience awaiting each new installment, which no doubt impacted the arc of the story line. To clarify, I too was one of those people, waiting desperately for the next book in the series. As each new book was published, I kept waiting for that illusive reading “high” that I felt in the beginning but as with most addictions, it never quite happened. Even after the complete waste of time that was The Fiery Cross (hours, days and weeks of my life that I will never get back!) there was still a part of me hoping that one day the magic would return.

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However all is not lost, thanks to visually stunning, and superior script writing that comes with “Outlander, the television series. As it appears the show is going to stretch each book out having only adapted a small part in the first eight episodes. I feel confident that I will get to enjoy all my favourite parts of the story as told through Ronald D. Moore’s unique yet faithful interpretation of the novels. I’m eagerly awaiting the mid-season return of the STARZ production of Season One Outlander” on April 4, 2015, along with millions of other women. I ask you this, is there anyone doesn’t want to see more of Sam Heughan?


Following the holidays, I realized that that the worst was over and I had finally seemed to be coming out the other side of my slump. I would like to say thank Auralee Wallace, who let me beta read an early version of her latest book, Skinny Dipping With Murder, that will be coming out in early 2016. It’s about a small-town girl who reluctantly returns home after years away and promptly becomes embroiled in hilarity, hi-jinks and a little dab of murder. I am looking forward to the finished product and for more stories involving Erica and her trusty side-kick Freddie!

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DESCRIPTION – My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her ead down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Image and description from: http://www.karenhealey.com/books/when-we-wake/


I have just begun reading When We Wake by Karen Healey. It is a dystopian novel that examines many different themes including global warming, famine, civil unrest and overpopulation in the not-too-distant future. What is most intriguing is the possibility of what could happen if science fiction meets reality and we are able to pause a human life through the use of cryonic freezing, only to restart that life many years later. There are many ethical questions that come up early in the story around the consequences of bringing someone back to life. What are the political and legal ramifications of reviving someone who has been long dead? Are they still consider citizens under the law or the property of the institutions who have brought them back to life? How do you re-integrate someone into society who has been officially dead for a century? Who gets to decide who is revived and who isn’t? And would you want to be given a second chance at life if everyone you knew and loved was long dead and buried? I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story of Tegan unravels as she faces a brand new world in When We Wake.

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Outlander S1, Ep. 8 “Both Sides Now” Mid-Season Finale

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GUEST REVIEWER – teachergirl73

Episode 8 – Both Sides Now

It’s hard to believe that we won’t be getting anymore Outlander until next spring. To be exact, April 4th in the U.S. on Starz, and for those of us living in Canada, Showcase has posted on their website an ambiguous “April 2015” return date. All I can say is that I hope we don’t have to wait an extra three weeks to watch the second half of the season like we did with the first half, but I know that I’m just deluding myself to think otherwise!

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In this mid-season finale, I finally get an answer to the question that I asked 15 years ago, which was “But what about Frank?!”. In her review of Episode Seven, “The Wedding”, Andrea discussed how her feelings about how difficult it must have been for Claire being torn between Frank, her husband back in the future and Jamie, the husband of her present circumstances. As the story progresses, we know that Jamie and Claire were meant to be together, and that the relationship that she has with him has a greater depth than the one she had with Frank. But we never really get to see what it was like for Frank after his wife disappeared. I think that was likely done intentionally so as not to detract from Claire and Jamie’s story. Although, perhaps Diana Gabaldon did have plans for Frank and that part of the manuscript ended up on the editing room floor? Regardless, I really enjoyed the show’s interpretation of what might have happened to Frank.

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The episode opens with Frank desperate and desolate at the police station in Inverness. As Frank makes another attempt to get the detective to work harder to find Claire, it becomes clear that the police no longer believe that she is missing but rather that she has run off with her lover. After Frank reported that he caught a man the night before Claire disappeared gazing mournfully up at her window, the police decided that Claire and this mysterious Highlander must be lovers and that Frank needed to accept that he had been dumped.  Later that night, as Frank drowns his sorrows at the local pub he is approached by a woman who supposedly has information about the “Highlander” suspect that Frank has been searching for. I have to say that if Frank fell for the ploy of “come meet me in a dark alley after midnight and don’t forget the money!” I might have had a few choice words for my television, but as it was, Frank was clearly not that overcome with grief to see the con for what it was. We get to see a little of that “Black Jack” streak when Frank comes face-to-face with his would-be attackers. As he nearly beats a man to death and roughs up the woman sent in to lure him in the first place, we see that perhaps Frank has more backbone then we think. The mild-mannered Frank, was not so mild and certainly not very well-mannered.  Reverend Wakefield gives Frank a cautionary pep talk about “drinking from the poisoned cup” and that Frank should never let himself sink so low again.

Outlander 2014Back in the 1740’s, Claire and Jamie are enjoying the “honeymoon” period of their new marriage. All seems to be going swimmingly well, until the happy couple are set up some red coat deserters  as they are in the middle of an intimate moment in a meadow where they were suppose to be searching for medicinal herbs. Claire is forced to save herself from being raped and from Jamie having to watch at gun point by using her newly acquired self-defense skills with a dagger.  In the aftermath of the incident, it is clear that the honeymoon was over, as Jamie and Claire struggle with their feelings about what happened. Jamie feels impotent and Claire is angry at him for letting them get into that situation in the first place. This incident is key to the next poor decision that Claire makes…and for those of you haven’t read the book yet, trust me, Claire makes many more bone-headed moves in her lifetime! She is unceremoniously left behind as the men ride off to try to get some witness testimony that might help clear Jamie’s name. It is at this point that the book and show take very different paths to get to the same point.

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In the book, Claire willingly makes the decision to walk away and try to find Craigh na Dun but in the show it appears to be less of a choice and more of a coincidence that she finds herself back where she started. The split screen technique of Claire and Frank both heading towards the stones that could reunite them, was very well done. The cinematography and music to the calling to each other through time was exquisite, then to have Claire come within reach of returning to Frank only to be taken by some red coat soldiers was simply the icing on the cake. We see Frank leaving, dejected and heartbroken, while Claire is hauled off to her inevitable meeting with Captain Jack Randall.

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The details of Claire’s confrontation with Randall vary slightly from the book, but the essential parts are there. Claire tries to bluff her way out of an interrogation by Randall, which as usual fails miserably. We are left with Jamie bursting through a window demanding that Randall “take his hands off” his wife just as he was about to torture Claire. This is where we leave our not-so-happy couple until next April. Sigh.

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After many conversations with friends who have read the book, there was much speculation about where the story might leave off for this mid-season finale, I have to say that I thought we might have made it farther through the story, and now I don’t see how book one of the series can be completed in only 16 episodes which means we will likely see this book stretch into Season Two. There’s certainly enough story to go around, so now the question is just how far will they get in the next 8 episodes? The good thing about having the season split in two is that it gives us time to savour the episodes.  You may also want to check out the free pod-casts on iTunes to hear Ronald D. Moore’s commentary of each episode. I have listened to the first episode podcast and found it very interesting to hear Moore’s reflections as the episode unfolded.

Outlander: The Official Podcast  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/outlander-official-podcast/id910631883?mt=2

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29d5959d53924a4acabf65e21a5e6756In that moment, the reason for my bitterness became clear to me. I wasn’t angry at Jamie or the Redcoat deserters. I was angry at myself for forgetting about my plan to make my way back to the stones at Craigh na Dun, my plan to return to my own time, to my husband, Frank. – Claire Fraser, Both Sides Now

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“But What About Frank?” – Outlander S1, Ep7 (The Wedding)

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The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority. – Stanley Milgram

Episode 7 – The Wedding

Most often when I consider the ripple effect reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander had on my life, it was in terms of how it may have impacted my choice of spouse rather than the relationships with my friends. For a number of years it was a personal mission to ensure that every friend, acquaintance and occasionally even strangers read it. The alchemy of this story has become legend between my friends and I. Though coincidentally my husband is a 6’4 former red head but of English, rather than Scots ancestry, other than his stature and once red hair he doesn’t bear much resemblance to the character, which now that I think about it, is probably a good thing.

From IMDB The Wedding (S1, Ep6) – Marriage to a Scot seems to be the only legal way out to save Claire from falling into the paws of Black Jack Randall. And Jamie accepts to become her husband and protect her. Claire is overwhelmed by circumstances that are forcing her into becoming an adulteress and a bigamist. The hasty marriage takes place and, in order to be legal, it must be consummated that night. 

Perhaps recommending and discussing Outlander was the first outlet for my many book related opinions that would later be fulfilled by the creation of my blog. My bestie resisted my efforts for a solid seven years …until Christmas showing up more than two hours late and in a state.

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When I asked her what the problem was she cried “But what about Frank?!?!?!?!?” I don’t remember what my response was other than I am sure a snort and something to the effect of “Obviously you haven’t read enough about Jamie yet!” However more than a decade later my opinion has changed somewhat and this thought seemed to echo throughout this most recent episode as Claire braced herself to consummate her marriage to Jamie.

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To avoid a torturous, literally, interrogation at the hands of Captain Randall, Claire is faced with an untenable choice. As a English subject she is at the mercy of their military, however if she were to become a Scot, Randall would have no legal means to impel her to submit to questioning. Rather than marry her himself Dougal has come up with an ingenious solution that not only secures her safety but keeps her accessible as his nephew, Young Jamie’s wife.

After watching the episode and recovering from the glory that is Sam Heughan sans vêtements, (truly, he is glorious) I found myself reflecting on my friend’s words. Told in flashbacks that are incredibly romantic you see the wedding from both Claire and Jamie’s perspectives. Despite wanting to smack Claire for her reticence I also found I could understand her reluctance to simply grab Jamie and deflower him already. Alas my gratification was not to be immediately fulfilled, truly this episode was possibly the most skilfully rendered yet and that it saying something after the visceral horror of Jamie’s flogging in The Garrison Commander, which proved that in this case my imagination did not come close to doing the torture justice.

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Twenty years ago when I read Outlander for the first time I don’t remember giving the sanctity of Claire’s vows to Frank much thought. However, when I laughingly reminded teachergirl73 of her distress, she was as dismissive as I once was of the small complication of having two husbands. Whether it was the long years of separation during the war or the degrading treatment at the hands of his doppelgänger or quite simply the irresistible pull of Jamie, it is clear that the hold of her other life is beginning to falter.

Unfortunately we will only be able to ponder this for the next 6 months following next week’s mid-season finale. In lieu of methadone I would highly recommend keeping the first 8 episodes on your PVR for repeated viewings.

Both Sides Now (S1, Ep8) – PROMO

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Outlander S1, Ep6 “The Garrison Commander”

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GUEST REVIEWER – teachergirl73

Episode 6 – The Garrison Commander

This episode begins with a significant departure from the book as Claire and Dougal are discovered by some red coat officers, one of them the lieutenant who tried to help Claire back in Episode Five, when Claire was having a good row with Angus and Dougal. That same lieutenant appears again just as Claire and Dougal are arguing once again and it is clear that the he believes that Claire is being held against her will. One would have thought that this was Claire’s chance to break free of the Mackenzie clan, she does not take it. Whether it was her previous encounter with Captain “Black” Jack Randall or because her time with the highlanders has not been all bad, she declares that she is a guest of the Mackenzie.

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Tobias Menzies, who plays Capt. “Black” Jack Randall, gets to display some fabulous acting skills he gives us a look at the deeply disturbing nature of Black Jack’s character. The scene where Jamie was flogged by Randall was truly horrific, which for anyone who’s read the book would know.  The show’s decision to change the retelling of the event from Dougal to Randall, certainly provided Menzies with the opportunity to show his breadth and depth as an actor. The problem is, when actors get to play characters that are as polarizing as Black Jack, I think that it’s sometimes hard for audiences to see them any other way.

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This is where Menzies will get the chance to prove his acting ability. We have only seen bits of Frank Randall, Black Jack’s future heir and much nicer, kinder alter ego, as after the first initial episode we have only seen Frank in Claire’s memories. This has allowed the truly twisted and demented personality of Black Jack to dominate. By getting to play both characters, Menzies has the role of a lifetime where he gets to play both sides of the coin within the same production. I’m really hoping for more glimpses of Frank in future episodes and to see if Menzies can make me like Frank again or at the very least feel compassion for him, because right now my response to the question, “What about Frank?” is “Who cares!“.

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Outlander, S1, Ep. 4-5 “Taking Oaths and Warmongering…”

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GUEST REVIEWER – teachergirl73

Episode 4 – The Gathering

I really do think that script writers for Outlander, have done an excellent job translating the original story with a new and original perspective.  The evidence of this expertly interwoven storytelling is demonstrated in Episodes Four, Five and Six. Although this post will deal exclusively with the events of Episode Four “The Gathering” and Episode Five “Rent”. Episode Six “The Garrison Commander” requires a post all on its own (once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand).

“The Gathering” is a very significant turning point for both Jamie and Claire as they both try in their own ways to avoid becoming more involved in the power and the politics of the Clan Mackenzie.  Of course, neither Jamie nor Claire can avoid the inevitable push and pull that is the Clan, but then again, it would be a much different story to tell if both characters escape plans had been successful.

The fourth episode opens with Claire playing with the children of the castle in the woods. To her guards and anyone else watching, it merely appears that Claire is having fun playing a version of “hide and seek” with Hamish Mackenzie, Colum’s son, and the rest of the castle’s offspring. However, Claire’s intentions for playing in the woods with the children are much more serious. What she is in fact doing is reconnaissance of the property surrounding the castle so that she can plan her escape. As she secretly leaves “breadcrumbs” to mark her escape path, to everyone else, she appears to be getting into the festivities of the Gathering.

All seems to be going as Claire has planned until she discovers Geilis Duncan in her surgery, who is openly snooping through Claire’s meager belongings as well as her stores of various herbs. Subtly malicious in her friendliness Geilis questions a clearly wary and uncomfortable Claire about her husband, she leaves her with a warning that the “highlands are no place for a woman on her own”.

In a significant departure from the original story-line, just as Claire’s getting ready to flee the castle, she is interrupted at her surgery door by Laoghaire. The young girl has come to seek Claire’s help with “moving Jamie’s heart forward” with a love potion. This is another one of those moments where Claire does not fully appreciate the superstitious nature of the highland folk. Claire thinks it is a sweet and innocent request from a young girl with a crush, and does not fully appreciate what this request might cost her in the future.

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The rest of the episode travels along following most of the original story-line, where Jamie inadvertently is forced into swearing an oath of sorts to Colum, thanks to Claire, despite what the political and personal consequences might be for him. There is a wild boar hunt where Claire and Dougal have a bonding moment as they help a fatally injured clansman pass on with dignity. At the end of the episode, Dougal declares that he will be taking a group to collect the rents from those living on the Mackenzie lands that couldn’t make it to the Gathering and that Claire will be going with him.

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Episode 5 – Rent

The tone of Episode Five is quite different from the way Claire is treated in the book. While travelling through the Mackenzie lads, Claire is treated as an outcast most of the time. The clansmen are far more antagonistic towards her and she is treated quite poorly by them. The only exceptions to this treatment seem to be Ned Gowan, the Clan’s lawyer/accountant and Jamie. But I felt at times that even Jamie was colder towards her in this episode than he ever was in the book at this point. The novel portrays Claire’s relationship with the clansmen as more jovial and light-hearted, and there’s a greater sense of camaraderie.

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While out collecting the rents, Claire finds her own amusement by helping a group of women working wool.  Enjoying her afternoon working with the village women, Claire takes the opportunity to ask some questions about Craigh na Dun, trying to figure out how far away she is from her escape. Claire’s day takes a turn for the worse when she gets into an argument with Angus about how she is spent her day. Emboldened by some whiskey shared with the other ladies,  she makes quite a scene, causing Dougal to step in. It is while Claire is in the midst of an argument with Dougal in front of the townsfolk that tensions become more heightened as an Englishman appears from one of the huts and tries to intervene. This gallantry on the part of the Englishman does not go over very will with the clansmen and when it looks like swords and blood might start flying, the lone Englishman backs down. After Dougal and his party leave, we see that he is actually a British officer.

This trip is not just to collect the Mackenzie rents. Unbeknownst to Claire, Dougal is also using the trip to collect funds for the Charles Stuart, the Catholic king and “rightful” heir to the Scottish throne. His tactics to help the return his king to the throne begin with using Jamie’s back as the proof that the British are not fit to rule. But when they come across the bodies of two highlanders strung up for all to see. Dougal’s retelling of finding the desecrated bodies left in the open for the crows to eat, helps to further his warmongering cause. Claire tries to warn Ned Gowan, strongly implying that the Scots won’t stand a chance against the British army, but it is to no avail.

There is a moment near the end of the episode that seems to help break the tension felt between Claire and the clansmen. Following inappropriate comments from others about the “Sassenach” the Mackenzie men start a room clearing brawl. In defending her honour the Mackenzie men find a way to coexist peacefully with Claire.

As the party moves on to the next town, Dougal and Claire have another conversation where he questions her about who she really is and why she is in Scotland, as he knows about her conversation with Ned Gowan about the fate of the Stuart cause. Claire tries to tell Dougal that she is just trying to save his life and that of his men when they are interrupted by the British officer that they encountered earlier in the episode. The episode comes to a close with Dougal clearly outnumbered, and the lieutenant questioning Claire if she is being held against her will. You’ll have to watch Episode Six, “The Garrison Commander” to find out what Claire’s response is…

The Garrison Commander (S1, Ep6) – PROMO