The hot Redcoat
Highlanders defending Claire's honour
Really slow and repetitive
LOTS of Gaelic
Claire’s not pleased with how Highlanders handle their finances
Outlander‘s fifth episode this week was clearly a boys trip on the road to collect ‘Rent,’ but Dougal Mackenzie elected to bring Claire Randall along for the ride for her medical skills. Aside from the one bar fight and their lawyer, Ned Gowan’s asthma, there wasn’t much for Claire to do besides sit on the sidelines and observe the social constructs and goals of the Highlanders in Clan Mackenzie. Claire is more isolated than usual from the men as they share sexual conquests and tell lude jokes in the Gaelic language she can’t understand. In witnessing the collection of rent through various villages, Claire see’s Dougal’s political pursuits of raising money for the Jacobite cause against English rule. Tensions grow high as Claire disagrees with (and speaks out against) the variations of payment of rent and Dougal’s use of his nephew, Jamie, in gaining sympathy for the Jacobites. Though Claire is often at odds with her Highlander hosts and isn’t afraid to speak out against their actions in this episode. Will the Highlanders and Claire continue to quarrel, or will they reach a mutual understanding of each other? Let’s discuss shall we…
Everyone is hanging out without Claire
Hearing even more narration this week of Claire wanting to get home to Frank is getting rather tedious, because we are well aware that all she is doing is trying to get back through the stones. She keeps complaining about being left out or being treated like a spy and being watched like she’s going to leave, but it’s hard to blame the Highlanders for thinking so, as Jamie expresses that her thoughts of running away are “plain and clear” on her face and leaving is generally all she talks about with him when she sees him. For example, last week when he caught her running away and she said, “I need to leave this place” so it’s no wonder they don’t trust her, not that Jamie told anyone she tried to escape, but he’s saying that her intentions of leaving are clear and this is why none of the men are trusting of her. The Highlanders recognize she takes no joy from sitting in their company or hearing their boisterous chatter by the fireside, and are wary of what she might do as a consequence on the road. They’re tolerating her because she is the laird’s guest, but their tolerance of her presence clearly only goes so far in this episode. When she gets up to leave her conversation with Jamie, annoyed he told her the plain truth of how they view her, he reminds her “ye did ask.”
“They were clearly using Gaelic to exclude me.” ~ Claire
Another Frank flashforward to teach us about Culloden was purely for exposition so we wouldn’t have to hear more of Claire’s narration, but it still felt a bit forced and boring. Yes, the show is trying to remind us of Claire’s history-teaching husband and explain just how Claire knows this much about the Scottish Highlands, but the history lessons still feel a little out of place. The first flashfoward of Claire schooling Frank on Jacobite knowledge was great, because it reminds us that Claire knows what she’s talking about, but the second trip forward, explaining Culloden, felt unnecessary. Culloden is part of the story but not until a few years down the road (ie. not in this season of the show), and even if it’s to explain why Dougal is collecting money, is it something we needed to know about now?
Claire gets her hands dirty, er, wet
It was nice to see Claire with a group of women enjoying herself, to see her fitting in and being part of something, but to have that moment rudely interrupted by Angus in a foul mood this episode, was jarring. Angus was much more fun in the previous episode when he was more boisterous and laughing with Claire. Angus made a vast change in character that seemed a bit off in his characterization. He’s being overly rough with her and it seems his character changed entirely. Even Jamie saying “Angus hates everyone” didn’t feel like an accurate description after all we’ve seen of him in the past episodes smiling, laughing, and acting as comedic relief in most episodes. Perhaps Angus being pawned off as Claire’s babysitter of the trip rubbed him the wrong way. It’s no wonder Claire was so perturbed in this episode, seeing as all the Highlanders are treating her in such a rude and rough manner.
“You’re not to judge things ye don’t understand. Stay out of it, Claire.” ~ Jamie
As the bystander on this trip, Claire isn’t afraid to make her opinions on rent collecting and extraneous tavern activities known. Now, Claire, what didn’t you understand from your buddy Jamie about staying out of it? Yes, what Dougal is doing to collect extra money for the Jacobite cause is pretty sketchy business, but the way they’re collecting rent doesn’t seem out of the norm for the 18th century. Using the barter system, paying with grain or goats, and Dougal allowing one or two families not to pay because they were robbed by the English all seems entirely likely and far from unusual. The episode makes it clear that Dougal knows these families, he collects rent from them often, and Claire is just a bystander and doesn’t know what she’s talking about when it comes to how one ‘should’ act in these circumstances. Of course she’s acting as she would in the 20th century (and mumbling under her breath about women not being allowed to practice law for another two centuries), but she’s just stirring up trouble for herself by getting involved. There’s a difference between helping a boy get un-nailed from a pillory (in episode 3) and wishing to change an entire way of life in the Highlands. However, after realizing these men she’s spent the past few weeks with could potentially die in the upcoming battle of Culloden, she is more grounded in the idea that she is living in the 18th century. It’s understandable she wants to save these men, who, by the end of the episode, have fought for her honour in a tavern brawl over men calling her a whore. She realizes these are real people who she could see die, and what’s to stop her from trying to change a little bit of history. Claire’s interest in wanting to help the Clan Mackenzie by convincing them they should stay out of the Jacobite rebellion will only get her further into trouble, though, because how is she to explain she knows they’re on the losing side?
Catchy Subtitle (header 4) tells you what happens in the third Discussion Point
Dougal accuses Claire of being a spy again. Really, they should have a swear jar for Dougal that he has to put money into every time he accuses Claire of being a spy. That would raise them money for the Jacobite cause more quickly. Claire has a sudden feeling of connection to this clan and thinks it’s a good idea to ‘warn’ the clan about them losing the Jacobite cause, but somehow this isn’t supposed to make her look like a spy? In trying to help her hosts, Claire is simply bringing more trouble upon herself, and for how clever she is appearing in this episode for understanding what’s going on with the Highland politics, she really is just being more careless in what she says around the Highlanders. At this point in the story, exposing herself with this knowledge only makes her seem more of a spy.
“I call it clan business and none of yours.” ~ Dougal
Claire’s constant assurance that she isn’t a spy is not upheld well by the attractive Redcoat (played by Tom Brittney) who is seemingly following their group through the villages. The reveal of Lieutenant Jeremy Foster as a Redcoat midway through the episode wasn’t so much of a surprise to anyone who had seen the preview for this week’s episode. In spoiling this surprise, his appearance wasn’t as impactful as it could have been, had Starz chosen to leave the audience in the dark about the appearance of Redcoats in the episode. It was also difficult to dislike his character when he shows up during two different scenes involving Claire fighting with the Highlanders, who are questioning her and being rough with her. Was this the director’s intention to have us side with the English, to make next week’s episode (which features almost exclusively Redcoats) more intense? What was the aim with this character introduction? At the moment, it’s rather hard to dislike the attractive man trying to help Claire in her moments of distress, especially since she hasn’t been treated so well by the Highlanders while on the road.
Perhaps it’s my dislike for politics and horse-riding montages paired with voiceover, but this episode was a bore. There was a spark of character development between Claire and the group of Highlanders and a cute moment of innocent Jamie protecting Claire, but those were the few moments that really stuck out as nice bits of writing by Toni Graphia. These weaker episodes have the tendency to leave the exciting bits until the last 15 minutes of the episode and me wondering what took them so long. While this is the third episode in a row that Brian Kelly has directed, it seems characterization took a turn for the worse and it was hard to discern what exactly he was thinking when setting up this journey through the Mackenzie lands. Even Jamie looked bored in this episode, cast off to the side only to be used for the scars on his back and otherwise playing with his dirk in the background scenes or lugging bags of grain around on cutaways. The episode dragged through an episodic formula of alternating between new village, new tavern, and new traveling montage, leaving much to be desired in those small moments we got to see Jamie and Claire or Claire and Ned Gowan bonding over the terrible circumstances. Ned Gowan’s characterization, in fact, was on point thanks to Bill Paterson’s portrayal of the quiet lawyer who appreciates Claire’s intellect and wit. Likewise, Sam Heughan’s performance as Jamie during the tavern scenes became increasingly fascinating to watch, as his jaw tightened more an more each night until he finally snapped and punched a tree. His quiet stewing on a stool as he was cast off only as a prop for Dougal was really incredible to watch. It was a bit surprising to introduce a cliffhanger to end this week’s episode, but the story had been setting up Claire’s growing fondness of her captors over the course of their travels. At the beginning of the episode, we could’ve been sure Claire would sell them out, but after seeing them defend her honour so assuringly, it’s hard to tell what she’ll say to the attractive Redcoat next week.
Questions, Comments, Concerns…
- Shirtless Jamie has returned! (though not willingly, poor lad)
- Handling piss-filled wool is not something I would sign up for
- Can the hot redcoat not be evil? Maybe? Please?
- Someone needed to get Angus a drink
- I’m surprised Claire didn’t slap one of the Highlanders in this episode with the way they were treating her
- Really, tho, I would’ve gone with the hot Redcoat in that first time he appeared because damn
- The weekly Frank history lessons need to go
Next Episode of Outlander airs SAT, SEPT 13 at 9|8c on Starz
Season 1 Episode 6 | The Garrison ComClaire has an unexpected meeting with a British general. Capt. Jack Randall is determined to uncover Claire’s secrets.
Outlander Episode 1×05 “Rent” Review