Claire Randall's adventure continues in the first season of what is sure to be a long-running series on Starz based on the beloved historical fiction/fantasy/romance series by Diana Gabaldon, and we are so ready to recap and then discuss every single moment of it.
This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Outlander, including Saturday night's Season 1, episode 4, “The Gathering.” Enjoy!
Claire races through the forest on a misty morning. Sharpshooters on lookout towers take aim. Nope, no escape this time. Claire is running from a fierce horde of children. She takes a tumble and looks up into a kilt, worn the traditional way. Not Jamie, though. Boo. Her guards don’t want to miss the festivities of the gathering, so Claire and the kids will have to explore some other time. The hunting game was more than a pleasant diversion. It let Claire scope out two possible escape routes. Clever girl.
Guards lead Claire through encampment. Bet she hasn’t seen anything like this where she’s from. No, no, she hasn’t. Simple joy, unencumbered by the trauma of war. People are happy to see each other, and Claire is going to miss this. She has the entire route mapped out in her head, but she still needs to find a way to ditch her guards. She points out a bonny lass who fancies one of the guards…but she doesn’t say which one. She makes them draw straws to see who gets to chase fair lady. Now to get rid of the other one, but first Claire needs to pick a gentle, easy horse. Brimstone, the horse she’ll ride in the next day’s hunt is faster than she is sweet and will turn for home first chance she gets.
Geillis surprises Claire in the surgery. Claire laid up a lot of food. Is she pregnant? Claire takes offense. She would never be unfaithful to her husband. Geillis says it’s not being unfaithful if he’s dead. Claire says he’s not alive. Geillis suspects Claire is barren, and tells Claire how she came to town with her only her wits. She found a man with a good job and a good house. He’s not much to look at but gives Geillis what she needs. Sometimes, Geillis says, you find yourself on a path you never expected, but that doesn’t mean it won’t lead you to a bonny place.
Geillis reminds C that the highlands are not a place for a woman to be alone. Claire will remember that.
Tonight, all the MacKenzie men will make their pledges to Column, so nobody will be watching the stables. Claire is almost ready. All she needs now is a weapon.
Mrs. Fitz interrupts. She hopes Claire isn’t wearing that to the ceremony tonight. As Colum’s guest, Claire will be expected to attend. Claire first thought Mrs. Fitz would disrupt her plans, but with such an escort, her guards can relax and let Claire move better around the castle.
That night, pipes sound, and in comes a cleaned-up Colum, as stately as he can with his gait. He takes his seat and the crowd quiets. Colum welcomes the guests to Leoch, and he’s never more been in his element. Dougal approaches and makes his obeisance, offering his sword, that it might pierce his heart should he ever betray Colum. There’s a ceremonial drink shared by both, to great response. This opens the floodgates. Man after man comes to make the same pledge, and it is indeed a moving spectacle. Claire begs off, as it really is the same pledge every time.
Claire wants to go back to the surgery, but her guard isn’t missing the gathering. Can’t she please stay a while longer. Fine. She’ll join in. She swigs from a small bottle…or does she? Her guard drains his. It’s not rhenish. Claire first calls it port, then a sedative. Is that Spanish the guard asks. Claire tells him to share the wine with his friends and races back to her surgery. Laoghaire’s the one to surprise her this time, wanting a wee favor. Does Claire have a love potion? Claire offers a vial of dried horse dung. Laoghaire is to sprinkle it outside Jamie’s door, tap her heels together three times and repeat “there’s no place like love.”
Free of Laoghaire, Claire races along her route out of the castle…until she runs into drunken clansmen…and Dougal, who sends them on their way. Claire shouldn’t be there, but since she is, there’s a penalty to pay. Dougal leans in for a kiss. Claire slaps him, and Dougal urges her to be off, lest she pay a greater price. She smashes him over the head with a stool and she’s back on track.
Claire gets almost to Brimstone’s stall, when—surprise!—Jamie pounces her. Claire seems to have forgotten they’ve posted extra gaurds. Colum won’t call Claire a guest if she tries to escape and gets caught.
Claire has been planning this escape for some time and Jamie shot all her hopes to hell in just a moment. Jamie will take her back up to the castle. Claire protests. She can’t go back; Dougal was forward with her and she walloped him. If Dougal was drunk, Jamie assures her, he won’t remember.
No escape for Claire tonight, but she is with Jamie. This isn’t the way back; where are they going? Jamie takes Claire to a secret tunnel entrance.
Claire thanks Jamie for seeing her back safely. Jamie thinks he should thank her for healing his scratches. They don’t have long to enjoy the tender moment, as rough hands seize them both. Jamie can’t miss his turn swearing fealty to Colum. Jamie protests that he’s not dressed, but we’ve see how good that excuse is already. They’ll outfit him proper inside.
Jamie strips off his old shirt to put on a new one, and is handed a MacKenzie clan brooch, with the motto, I shine, not burn. Jamie protests he can’t wear that, as he’s not a MacKenzie. He responds with his own clan motto, I am ready. Ready for what, Claire wonders.
In the hall, the oaths continue, and Claire’s guard continues to feel the effects of his sleeping potion.
A magnificently garbed Jamie arrives and an awed silence falls. Claire finds herself pulled off to the side for a quick explanation. If Jamie swears fealty to Colum, that will put Jamie in the line of succession.
Claire asks if Hamish or Dougal wouldn’t be next in line, but that’s the English way of doing things. Colum can name a tanist, and Jamie has MacKenzie blood, so he counts. If enough clansmen want Jamie to be laird, then he will be.
Claire thinks Jamie would be a good choice to be next laird, but Dougal has an eye on that spot for himself. This could go very badly for Jamie, and it would go badly as well if Jamie refuses to take the oath. If only Jamie had stayed away until the gathering was over, nobody would have pressed the matter. Claire suspects this is all her fault.
Jamie kneels before Colum, under Dougal’s watchful eye. He comes to Colum as a kinsman, but he gives him no vow. His oath is pledged to the name that he bears. Jamie gives, instead, his obedience as kinsman. As long as Jamie’s feet rest on the lands of the clan MacKenzie, he holds himself bound to Colum’s word.
Colum smiles and offers the ceremonial drink. The crowd (and author, in a clever cameo appearance) rejoice. Dougal is left wondering what just happened here, but who cares, it’s party time. Pipes play and dancers whirl.
No escape for Claire, and the morning dawns misty for the great boar hunt. Claire leads Brimstone through the forest, but is thwarted yet again, as she tends the wound of a hunter gored by his prey. She hears sounds of pain and takes off, leaving her guard behind. One close call with the boar later, she finds Dougal comforting a wounded Geordie, but it’s a bad gore to the thigh. There’s no spurting, and Claire doesn’t think Geordie will lose his leg. She wraps a tourniquet around the thigh to stop the bleeding. The wound to his abdomen, however, is fatal. Dougal surreptitiously removes the tourniquet. Blood flows freely. It’s over soon. In contrast to the boisterous hunt, the wood is now quiet. Geordie’s body is carried home over his horse, the boar dragged along the ground.
Outside the castle, Dougal joins in a raucous game played with sticks and balls and heads straight for Jamie. The two men face off in an impressive display of athleticism, ending with Jamie flipping Dougal over his shoulder and onto the ground. Jamie thanks Dougal for teaching him well, and all seems fine.
Her escape attempts thwarted, Claire must face the terrifying thought that she might be destined to stay in this dungeon forever. She’s not ready to give up but needs time to come up with another plan.
Cue Dougal. He asks Claire if she’s seen men die before, not by violence. She says yes. Dougal says Claire is doing a fine job as healer. He wants to thank her personally for what she did for Geordie.
Claire demurs, but Dougal insists she took Geordie to a peaceful place, all any of them can expect when they die. Claire thanks him, but if there’s nothing else, she has a lot to do in her dungeon.
That’s when Dougal tells her he’s come to set her free. He’s leaving tomorrow and taking her with him traveling through the MacKenzie lands, collecting rents. It would be wise to have a healer along, especially one who does well under strain. There’s a lot of that on the road.
They leave at first light. Claire takes her first full breath since leaving the castle walls. She doesn’t know where this journey will take her, but if she has a chance now to reach the standing stones, this time, she must not fail.
Quotes of the week:
Jamie: “How far did you think you’d get, lass, on a dark night with a strange horse?”
Claire: “The more unconscious clansmen tonight, the better.”
Best Jamie and Claire moment: Verbal horseplay in the stables!!!
Next episode: “Rent”
The Outlander party never stops at H&H—visit our official collection for Diana Gabaldon's Outlander to read a Beginner's Guide, What to Read After Outlander, In Defense of Laoghaire, 5 Things the TV Series Shouldn't Change, all the latest news, and so much more.
+Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series in Reading Order:
|2. Dragonfly in Amber|
|4. Drums of Autumn|
|5. The Fiery Cross|
|6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes|
|7. An Echo in the Bone|
|8. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood|
Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.