OUTLANDER: The Devil’s in the Details

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Episode 111: “The Devil’s Mark”

[Photos: Sony Pictures Television]

Welcome, all, to our recap of the one-hundred and eleventy-eth episode of Outlander; this one’s a doozy and will most certainly prove to be a game-changer. We’ve included our normal spoilers graphic, but this time around, I feel doubly compelled to warn you: if you haven’t yet seen the show and you plan to and you want to be surprised, please don’t continue reading! But you know, after you watch the episode, please come back and read this…and comment, protest, argue, debate, hurl insults, or compliment…just come back!

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The episode begins with both Claire and Geillis thrust down into a thieves’ hole. Each woman eyes the other as the reason for their arrest. Geillis’ confidence in Dougal and an imminent rescue is shaken once Claire informs her of Colum’s banishment and departure. The next morning, as the two accused witches are dragged to the courtroom, the mood of the village is clear: it’s a witchhunt, in the most literal meaning of the word.

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Ned Gowan appears and offers his services in support of the two accused women, much to Claire’s relief. A few witnesses appear to speak against the women, of most interest Geillis’ housekeeper and the mother of the fairy changeling from last week (and there’s the significance of that storyline, suddenly made clear). Ned and Claire have a brief moment of time to converse. Claire asks if Colum had anything to do with her arrest; Ned’s non-answer speaks volumes.

The court recesses for the day, and back in the thieves’ hole, Claire asks Geillis if she was after Dougal for his money, or really for him. Geillis had been siphoning money off her husband for a while for the Jacobite cause, and had it in reserve. Money wasn’t the issue. Geillis truly respected and was in awe of Dougal, but was disappointed by his departure.

The next morning, both women are taken back to trial. This time, Laoghaire testifies that she went to Claire for a potion to open Jamie’s heart to her own, but then claims that Claire took the potion and Mr. Fraser for herself. She also conveniently reports Claire’s ill-timed face slap from last week. Claire vigorously denies the testimony, only to further incite anger from the court for her impertinence.

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Father Bain testifies next, and while I understand the intent of the scene, I didn’t feel the scene worked for me. Father Bain dramatically admits to having made a mistake in his initial assessment of Claire when she intervened in his last rites over a poisoned village boy months back. Bain “confesses” that he was blinded by vanity, that he’s no longer worthy to serve his congregation, and begs to be let go by the congregation. When the court forbids him to leave, he turns and gives Claire a wolfish grin. So apparently, all his confession was a ruse and a big gamble. He could easily have turned the court’s sympathies towards Claire. The whole scene just felt a bit overwrought and improbable.

After the Father’s testimony, the mood of the court darkens further. Ned counsels the women that it’s impossible for both women to escape unscathed, but that Claire could survive if she were to renounce Geillis. When he gives her a moment with Geillis to decide, Geillis grills Claire as to why she’s there in Scotland, because she wants to know what she’s dying for. When Claire claims her arrival was an accident, that she just wants to go home even though she’s unsure it’s even possible, Geillis says she believes it is, and then utters this compelling phrase: “1968.”

Ned fetches them both back to court, and announces that Claire would like to address the court. Claire pauses, a long pregnant pause, before denying that she has anything to say at all.  Bedlam ensues, as the villagers by now are ready to move on to the main event. Ned buys a little time by pulling a gun in the courtroom, but eventually things become nigh uncontrollable with calls from the crowd to “burn the witches”.

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At this point, Jamie shows, claiming his right as her husband to protect Claire from the maddening crowd. Geillis, realizing the dire straits they’re in, confesses to witchcraft and killing her husband, then rips her bodice to reveal her…MAJOR SPOILER…devil’s mark, that is, a smallpox vaccination on her left arm, and her visibly pregnant belly. The village people carry her out of the courtroom towards the pyre, and though we never actually see her die, the implication is that her life is ended by the vengeful villagers.  And that she was also a time-traveler herself.  Never saw that one coming.

Jamie and Claire escape the bloodlusted crowd, and ride off to Lallybroch, Jamie’s ancestral home. When they rest en route, Jamie quite fairly asks for honesty and whether Claire’s actually a witch. Claire surprises us all by admitting to the full truth. Even more surprising, or not if you’ve been sold on Jamie all along, he fully believes and supports Claire’s story. Further, he realizes that the time he gave Claire a beating was because she was trying to get back to her husband, Frank. And he has the decency to feel bad about it.

They retire for the evening, rediscover each other, and then Jamie asks Claire if she’s ready to go home. She assumes he means Lallybroch, but they walk up to the stones that originally transported Claire to the 1700s. After a short hesitation on Jamie’s part, he leaves Claire there at the stones. After a long while of mulling things over, we see her approach the stone with her hand held out. But in the next scene, Claire sneaks up on a sleeping Jamie at the bottom of the hill, and asks him to take her Lallybroch. She’s chosen what a large majority of women would have chosen, i.e., the fiery but kind Scottish Laird-to-be both from a distant past and the here-and-now.

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As mentioned, the episode was a huge game-changer, primarily because 1) Geillis revealed her smallpox vaccination, thereby revealing Claire wasn’t the only time-traveler in 1700s Scotland, and 2) Claire told Jamie everything, and he stood by her. How many of us women have felt truly and completely believed and supported at any point in our lives? If it happens, it’s a gift.  And something to mull over: if Jamie came to get Claire, where is Dougal, and what does it mean for Geillis?

Stick with us through next week, when your regular and fabulous reporter Alex checks back in after a challenging couple of weeks out. Give her your X’s and O’s as she gets back in the swing of things, because let’s face it, it’s what good, strong women do for one another. And if you’re so inclined, loop us both into your discussions. ‘Til next time, lads and lasses!

[Outlander Episode 110: “By the Pricking of My Thumbs “]

[Outlander official site]

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