A True Fan’s Review of #Outlander Episode 110: BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS

Outlander Episode 110: BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS is the first dual-perspective episode of the ereason, although the monologues are restricted to Claire’s voice. The show has made the smooth transition to traditional story-telling mode, following both Claire and Jamie on their separate journeys.

Much is revealed in this episode as we make our way toward Jamie and Claire’s crucial scene at Craig na Dun. Not to jump ahead too far, the brothers fall out of favor with each other – again – with Jamie caught in the middle – again. Laoghaire’s claws come out (but I still think it’s mostly Jamie’s fault). Mrs. Fitz shows, once again, what a horrible grandmother she is. And we finally meet the Duke of Sandringham (played by the marvelous Simon Callow) with all his pomp and flair. He’s a minor character, and I wish we had the screen time to explore his flamboyant history and dubious connections.

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But Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) is the shining star of this episode. She’s so perfectly scandalous and merciless, I’m almost tempted to do a Geillis’ Top 30 Looks.

Richard Clark is the director of BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS and seems to handle this episode with a slightly subtler hand. The goodbye scene between Jamie and Claire is a favorite of mine and feels more natural and intimate than the bedroom scene in Ep109.

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Ira Steven Behr, the writer of this episode, also penned THE GARRISON COMMANDER – still my favorite episode of the season so far, with much credit due to Tobias Menzies‘ singular performance as Captain Randall. This particular script is very well balanced between all the major players in the series while introducing a new character – the Duke – and expanding on a favorite – Geillis.

My two words to describe this episode (borrowing directly from the script): Sublime Combination (of everything)

Outlander is based on a science-fiction/historical-fantasy novel of the same name, right? With the opening sequence to this episode, I now know where the real fantasy element enters the storyline. Throughout the entire Diana Gabaldon series, Jamie’s character emerges as a great lover, among many other admirable roles. It’s my understanding there’s no such thing as “downtown” in Scotland – in the geographic sense. But that doesn’t prevent Jamie (Sam Heughan) from showing Claire (Caitriona Balfe) how it’s done in the 18th century.

While watching the opening sequence, I had only one question spring to mind. Are those the same beautiful sheets as in the opening credits? What are they – 500 thread count?

Hey, it makes a difference.

You know me. I’m not describing the intimate scene to you in detail. You have to watch it for yourself. I will tell you this. Claire has not thought about Frank in days. Poor Frank. She spends her mornings and afternoons tending to the wounded of Castle Leoch and her nights teaching Jamie 101 uses for his witty tongue.

For the first time in the series, we are unhappy to hear the voice of Murtagh  (Duncan Lacroix) – this time from behind the banging of a door, yelling for Jamie to get up. Yeah, that one’s too easy.

Unless the Duke of Sandringham is downstairs with a friggin’ pardon in his hands, I’m not sure why Jamie’s frustration turns to happiness when he lets his godfather into the room. With Claire basking in the glow of Jamie’s “Good morning’ to ye, lass” and a courtesy bow from Murtagh, they launch into their plan to enlist the Duke’s help to have the bogus murder charge removed from Jamie’s head.

Claire pops up in the bed when she hears Sandringham’s name and warns Jamie the Duke cannot be trusted as he is a friend of Jack Randall. Murtagh is uncomfortable not knowing how Claire has come by this information, but respects Jamie’s wishes not to question her.

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They decide to confer with Ned Gowan before approaching the Duke. Jamie’s hopes soar at the idea of obtaining a pardon.

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Lallybroch. Lallybroch. Lallybroch. Jamie wants to take his wife home to be Lady Broch Tuarach.

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Jamie and Murtagh meet with Ned (Bill Paterson) in the great hall – the last episode in which we see this magnificent set which may be the reason much happens in this room. It’s a particular favorite of those behind the show.

Ned informs Jamie that his word will never be taken over Randall’s because truth and lies have nothing to do with the law. Ain’t that the truth?

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But . . .

before Jamie can surrender all hope, Ned suggests a brilliant plan of action. He offers to draw up a petition citing Randall’s foul deeds against the Scottish folk, including Claire’s assault, in the hopes the Duke will view his relationship with Randall as more dangerous than advantageous. If Sandringham can place the petition in the proper hands, Ned believes Randall may be court-martialed or exiled to a faraway post in disgrace, leaving no one to counter Jamie’s word.

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Big smiles all around. Well, an eyebrow raise from Murtagh  . . .

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. . . a mediocre smile from Ned . . .

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. . . and a genuine smile from Jamie.

Am I the only one who doesn’t think this sounds as simple as they think it’s going to be?

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Meanwhile on the other side of the castle, Claire seeks out her new arch nemesis and finds the little weasel with Granny Fitz in the kitchen. In between stalking Jamie and planting twigs under Claire’s bed, Laoghaire’s made a new apron for her grandmother.

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Claire is unimpressed with Laoghaire’s fine needlework and asks Mrs. Fitz to leave them alone. They have something to discuss in private.

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Astute Mrs. Fitz can tell there’s something very wrong between the lasses, but she’s fairly useless so shoos the kitchen maids out and follows in their wake.

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Laoghaire plays dumb at first when Claire flashes the ill-wish in front of her. Never seen it before, the little liar claims.

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“I know you have deep feelings for Jamie, and that when tender regard is denied, it can be very hurtful, especially in one so young as yourself.”

Claire attempts to take the high road, not blaming Laoghaire for misdirecting her jealousy.

“. . . I never conspired to take Jamie from you. The truth is, he was never yours to begin with.”

Wrong words, Claire. Weren’t you the one who tried to fix them up in the first place? Of course, you were drunk off your high horse so probably don’t remember. But you can’t have forgotten watching the two of them go at it in the alcove.

I tell ya. First Jamie confuses the crap out of Laoghaire. Now she’s practically being dared to do something worse than throw bad thoughts at Claire’s mom-hair. Oh, and calling Laoghaire a “child” doesn’t help.

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“My poor Jamie. Trapped in a loveless marriage, forced to share his bed with a cold English b*tch. He must have to get himself swaying drunk before he can stand to plow your field.”

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They could have done something very interesting here, considering this escalating verbal battle is taking place in the kitchen. There’s lots of things around to throw – fruits, vegetables, pots, pans, knifes. But Claire settles on smacking Laoghaire across the face – her basic reaction to the mention of anyone swiving her.

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The gloves come off. Laoghaire admits to leaving the ill-wish, in the hopes Jamie will come to hate Claire as much as she does.

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Claire ends the argument, fed up, telling Laoghaire to stay away from her and her husband. Guess it’s too late to try fixing Laoghaire up with Willie?

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Claire goes in search of Geillis after Laoghaire threw one final shot, telling Claire that her friend is the one who sold the ill-wish. Geillis isn’t home, but flatulent Arthur (John Sessions) is, along with the young house maid, Jeanie Hume (Lucy Hollis). All I can think is, this girl must get paid a sh*t-load of money to work in that house and why did they give her character a last name? A witness for the prosecution perhaps?

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“Look for Mistress Duncan in the woods, near the foothills, in the hours before dawn,”

she whispers to Claire as Claire makes her escape from the house of ill-wishes-it-didn’t-smell-so-bad. Can the girl be more specific, considering Scotland is made up of nothing but mountains and foothills?

No matter. Claire finds Geillis, she being the only one crazy enough to be alone in the middle of nowhere, dancing almost naked around a fire. It’s a beautiful sequence, much like the ladies dancing around Craigh na Dun in SASSENACH. And in case you didn’t make the connection, the editors splice in shots of the ladies dancing around the stones at Craig na Dun. The main difference is, Geillis is dressed better.

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She chants and moans and writhes on the ground as if making love to the fire. Claire watches, curiously fascinated, especially when Geillis wraps her hands around a swollen belly.

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Geillis climaxes and strips to the waist then collapses to the ground.

“You can come out now, Claire,”

she sighs, rolling onto her side as Claire emerges from the woods.

I appreciate the early revelation of the pregnancy in this sequence and the lovely ceremony around the fire but, at first, thought the nudity in this scene was too gratuitous – if gratuitous can have levels of gratuity. But as I look back, I think we are supposed to be uncomfortable with Geillis’ immodesty – as is Claire to a certain degree. Claire is no prude, certainly, but there’s a charged atmosphere between the ladies – almost sexual. Does it stem from Geillis’ mushrooming insanity or her 20th century roots or both?

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More revelation. Geillis confesses to having an affair with Dougal MacKenzie, the father of her child. She was praying to Mother Nature to free her from her husband before the child is born.

There’s some interesting subtext here, not

“Twas the icy wind whispering over my nipples – makes them harden like acorns,”

part, although that is provocatively amusing.

Geillis likes to be watched.  She likes to be daring. She’s proud of her acorn nipples. We know that she knows what Claire doesn’t know but will know soon.

Why is Claire amenable to keeping secret Geillis’ pregnancy, affair and pagan praying? I think she identifies with Geillis because of her own cache of burdensome secrets. Is she tempted to spill the truth at this moment? I think Geillis is hoping she would.

But, for once, Claire keeps her mouth shut and agrees to keep Geillis’ secrets secret.

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The two ladies head back through the woods, wrapped in their adorable jackets that everyone wants to buy, talking of friendship and, oh yeah, Dougal’s “slag of a wife,” Maura.

Claire’s eyes are opened wider when Geillis reveals the Duke’s affection for Dougal, making an interesting triumvirate between Randall, Dougal and Sandringham. Thoughts of Jacobite machinations are put on hold when Claire hears a child crying in the woods. She makes toward the sound.

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“When the faeries steel a human child away, they leave one of their own in its place. You know it’s a changeling because it doesn’t thrive and grow.”

Geillis says with a hand on Claire’s arm to stop her.

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Claire immediately dismisses the superstition and charges up the faery hill, leaving Geillis to return to the castle alone.

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By the time she reaches the baby, it’s too late. She holds the bundle in her arms, unable to leave it alone.

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A bit of time passes – you can tell because her mom-hair is coming down – before Jamie finally rides up. He’s been looking for her everywhere and should think about having Rupert follow her again to keep her out of trouble.

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“You’ve a kind heart, but you have no idea what you’re dealing with,”

he says, taking the baby gently from her arms.

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“These people . . . they’ve never been more than a day’s walk from the place they were born. They hear no more of the world than what Father Bain tells them in the kirk on a Sunday.”

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Once again, Claire is demoralized by the 18th century and asks Jamie to take her away from that place.

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Back at Castle Leoch, they turn to the matter of the petition against Randall. Claire is hesitant to sign, not being convinced of the Duke’s trustworthiness.

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The entire business involving the Duke makes Jamie out to be almost naive. Preoccupied with thoughts of regaining his good name and returning to Lallybroch, Claire takes it upon herself to approach the Duke alone.

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The Duke is charming but not very cooperative. When he fails to see reason, Claire resorts to threats, bringing up the Jacobite gold collected by Dougal and turned over to Sandringham – a guess, but a good one.

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The Duke makes a polite and not at all veiled threat of his own, then quickly changes his colorful tune. He’s more than happy to help Jamie out, being the good lad he is.

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Claires toasts to the success of her plan to help Jamie, then . . .

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. . . returns to Castle Leoch where her medicinal duties are called upon. Dougal (Graham McTavish) has broken out in a drunken fit, having heard his wife Maura has perished from a sudden illness. Was Geillis anywhere nearby?

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Dougal is in the great hall, swinging his sword at anyone who comes near. Colum (Gary Lewis) stands off to the side with a deep frown on his face – an expression he wears the entire episode. When Claire enters the hall, he orders her to use a potion to incapacitate Dougal. Do no harm, says the Hypocratic Oath. Eh, it’s Dougal.

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Angus grabs a bottle of brandy to spike as Dougal rants about his wife being too good for him. Can’t disagree with that.

Dougal is a man of many layers – like all the MacKenzie men, but he usually hides his beneath a normally inflexible reserve, especially in the Castle under his older brother’s rule. Well, except for his outburst in Ep109.

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He stops smacking himself in the head and berating himself long enough to toast the fair Maura with the bottle Angus offers him. Strong stuff. Dougal is out in seconds after two draughts. He is then carried from the hall.

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Excitement over, Claire goes to market and runs into Geillis, giddy over the news of Maura’s death. Her sex with fire dance worked, she giggles. Now she and Dougal can be together.

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“Your husband might have something to say about that,”

Claire says, dooming poor Arthur.

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Geillis answers with a deliciously wicked, “Mm, hm,” and strolls off.

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Back at the Duke’s swanky rental palace, Jamie and Murtagh arrive with petition in hand. Andrew McDonald (Jim Sweeney) and sons come marching out the front door, one of them shouldering Murtagh in passing – the one who wants to die first. This has West Side Story written all over it.

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Once inside, the Duke inspects Jamie’s petition with an itty, bitty magnifying glass, reading the entire thing one word at a time. The Duke is not bothered by Randall’s actions so much as he’s tired of covering for him. What’s worse . . . everyone seems to know it.

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The Duke wants to help (really he has no choice), but only if he can come out squeaky clean. He also wants an itty, bitty favor from Jamie. The MacDonalds have challenged him to a duel because he sucks at cards and sucks even more at paying his gambling debts.

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Jamie agrees to be the Duke’s second at the duel, although Murtagh expresses his displeasure at getting involved with the bloodthirsty MacDonalds. Lallybroch. Lallybroch. Lallybroch. Jamie’s wants to go home to Lallybroch and will do anything to get there.

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The evening of the big dinner party in honor of the Duke of Sandringham arrives, but too many people are invited and they run out of chairs. Dougal, Colum and the Duke have to stand.

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Jamie and Claire arrive late, and I think we know what they’ve been doing if their wide smiles are any indication.

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A bagpiper announces the arrival of a glorious peacock cake for the Duke to stab with Colum’s dagger, which I surely hope was cleaned for the occasion.

We’re seeing several flashes of Arthur in this scene, and I’m starting to feel really sorry for the guy. I’m wishing he’d married anyone but Geillis. Heck. He’d have been better off with Jeanie.

With the cake cut, Jamie introduces Claire to the Duke, each one pretending not to know the other. Claire sends Jamie off to fetch her a drink, so she can express displeasure at the Duke getting Jamie involved in the MacDonald duel. She keeps going up against men who eat threats for breakfast, sprinkled on top of their morning parritch. The Duke is unfazed.

The party continues, Geillis looking bored while waiting for something to happen. Something happens.

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Arthur stands and stumbles from the table, clutching his throat. I am appalled when no one runs to his aid. Perhaps they think he’s doing a jig.

The conversation and music continue as he gurgles and collapses to the floor. Thank goodness for the one woman who screams – he should have married her. The scream captures Claire’s attention.

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Claire rushes to Arthur’s side, but her efforts are fruitless.

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He dies while his wife throws lovey-dovey eyes at Dougal across the room.

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The smile Dougal returns in kind is chilling, as is the music. The lovers do not have the decency to hide their feelings in the face of suffering. I like Dougal even less now. At least Geillis is nuts.

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Claire is not the only who notices. Colum looks horrified from one to the other, the story complete.

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Geillis finally reacts to her husband’s demise, screaming and running to his foaming corpse.

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Claire backs away, the smell of bitter almonds strong on Arthur’s last breath. The sign of cyanide poisoning, she realizes.

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All stare at the spectacle, seemingly unsympathetic. The only real emotions on display are Geillis’ fake tears, Dougal’s devilish leer, and Colum’s even deeper frown. A MacKenzie party doesn’t end until someone keels over. Everyone can go home now.

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On the heels of poor Arthur’s ending, the duel must go on. Not enough people have died this week yet.

It’s an interesting process. Jamie and one of Andrew MacDonald’s sons mark off five paces for the duelers, who take their places facing each other with pistols.

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At the dropping of a handkerchief the size of a diaper, the combatants fire at each other. I’m assuming this is a game of chicken because neither man comes close to hitting the other, deliberating aiming wide. The Duke apologizes for not paying his debt, and the MacDonald accepts the apology. Not at all sure what’s been solved here. Shouldn’t MacDonald have at least shot the Duke in the kneecap?

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The sons agree, grumbling off to the side. They hurl insults at the Duke even though their father tells them to hold their tongues. Why he doesn’t discipline them is beyond me. Jamie can show him how.

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The Jets and the Sharks walk off in separate directions, lobbing insults at each other. Where the heck is Murtagh?

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“Into the woods you go, to find a fallen log to bend each other over,”

one of the sons taunts.

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“Is it true the MacDonalds learn of love by rutting with their mother?”

Jamie replies, yucking it up with the Duke. Oops. Jamie said mother.

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The feistiest of the boys pulls a sword and charges Jamie, getting in a lucky strike. Jamie fends and manages to take the kid’s knee out.

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The other brothers charge with the father still doing nothing to control his children.

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The joking turns into a bloody brawl, all men sprawled on the ground, including Jamie.

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The Duke goes into a tizzy. A duel is one thing, but a common brawl is beneath him. He begs Jamie to tell Claire the fight was not his fault and promises to pass the petition along before leaving Jamie lying on the ground in a bloody heap. I hope he at least calls 911.

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Somehow making his way back to Castle Leoch, Jamie faces a fuming Claire who quietly treats his wound. He makes light of yet “one more scar,” rejoicing instead about the Duke taking the petition. Claire is uncharacteristically not in a talkative mood. She’s more in a jab a needle into her husband’s side mood.

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“You’re not normally a closed-mouth woman, Claire. I expected noisier displeasure, but quiet anger can be very effective.”

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Jamie is summoned to Colum’s chamber and enters to hear Dougal being exiled to his home to attend to his wife’s funeral. Colum can look past the Jacobite thing, but not Dougal sleeping with the fiscal’s wife.

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Colum wants the lovers separated until Dougal is over the evil temptress’s spell.

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Dougal claims to love Geillis as she’s carrying his child.

Colum strips him of that claim, standing his paternal ground. The child is Arthur Duncan’s and Hamish is the MacKenzie’s son. He refuses to allow Dougal to marry Geillis and orders his brother to leave the Castle that very day with Angus, Rupert and Jamie in tow.

Before Jamie can object, Colum comes down on him as well. He’s pretty much mad at everyone. Not sure how Ned’s stayed out of the line of fire.

“After the funeral, you and your companions . . . oh, you can do whatever you like. You can drink and fornicate yourselves to your bloody end, but you will do it on your home ground – not mine.”

This is my favorite Gary Lewis performance, to date, in the series. There’s a kind of madness mixed in with his fury. He’s surrounded by man-boys being led around by their dicks. Pardon the vulgarity. It’s a wonder he hasn’t lost it until now. Side note: Mr. Lewis is also wonderful in Billy Elliot. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend.

Colum makes Dougal nod his acknowledgement to his Laird’s command, further humiliating and belittling his younger brother, as if calling him a nitwit and numbskull wasn’t bad enough.

I love the power Colum wields atop his stubby legs. The respect Dougal holds for his older brother is apparent, if not a bit perplexing. What is that keeps Dougal in check – for the most part. Is it all respect? Or is there some fear involved?

Turning his wrath on Jamie, Colum castigates him for spilling MacDonald blood without the Laird’s permission.

Lallybroch. Lallybroch. Lallybroch. Jamie wants to go home to Lallybroch and will be leaving soon, he tells Colum.

“. . . not until I give my permission. Until then, you’ll stay close to my brother. You’ll see to it that he follows my orders in all matters. And just so that I know your mind is focused on my wishes, you’ll leave that wife of yours here.”

Jamie and Claire should have left with Murtagh when they had the chance. Where the heck is Murtagh?

Once again, everyone is kicked out of Colum’s chamber, Dougal looking every bit the scolded child.

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Finally, my favorite scene in the episode – the big goodbye. Claire helps Jamie pack up Sleepy for the long journey to Dougal’s homestead. I don’t really know how far it is, but I assume it’s far enough such that Jamie can’t sneak back to Claire every night.

Jamie tells Claire to stay away from Geillis Duncan while he’s gone. She no longer has the protection of her husband, and with Dougal gone, she’ll be at Colum’s mercy – should he choose to punish her perfidiousness.

I’m wondering why Claire is obeying Colum. I figured she’d put up some kind of argument, but she seems passively agreeable to be separated from Jamie. Scratching my head.

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When Jamie says,

“These are dangerous times, mo nighean donn. Be careful,

he means,

“These are dangerous times, mo nighean donn. Be careful,”

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Claire promises to be careful though I don’t think she knows what

“These are dangerous times, mo nighean donn. Be careful,”

really means. Have I foreshadowed enough? Okay. Let’s move onto the kiss.

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Jamie kisses Claire with a longing intensity. She kisses him back with an equal passion. It’s actually my favorite kiss of the series so far. It’s romantic and hot at the same time. No sloppiness or heavy breathing. It’s a moment of purity in their feelings for one another is the best way to describe how I feel watching that scene.

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It’s almost a shame to have the moment ruined by Dougal’s,

“I said kiss her, dinna swallow her.”

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 “Come back to me, James Fraser,”

are Claire’s last words to Jamie before they part. He gives her a super sexy kiss on the forehead and mounts Sleepy, almost taking the camera operator out with his sword.

Life goes on and Claire goes back to work, tending to a burn on Mrs. Fitz’s arm who attempts to cheer Claire up. I just want the Fitz to mind her own granddaughter. Maybe put her to work in the kitchen when she can keep an eye on her.

Young Tammas comes in with an urgent note for Claire, and I’m hoping his devious first cousin-once removed (or whatever) Laoghaire didn’t put him up to this.

Claire. Come quick. Geillis,” it reads.

 Hmm. That’s all it takes to forget?

“These are dangerous times, mo nighean donn. Be careful.”

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Yep. Pretty much. Claire goes galloping off to Crainesmuir to find out what her friend needs. Turns out . . . Geillis didn’t send the note, of course.

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Someone’s playing a practical joke on you, she says. Let’s eat.

This is where Claire is supposed to say to herself:

“These are dangerous times, mo nighean donn. Be careful,”

but instead, she follows Geillis across the room and tells her she has to get out of town. I’m wondering why she didn’t send a note with that shrewd advice days ago. Save herself a lot of trouble.

But Geillis has no intention or desire to leave Crainesmuir. Even Claire’s accusation of murder doesn’t phase her. Geillis denies it though a vial of cyanide is sitting on the table in front of Claire. All it needs is a skull & crossbones symbol and the label: For Arthur.

Before Geillis can make any further denials, wouldn’t you know it, the cops show up. Never around when you need one . . .

Jeanie is drying a dry plate, looking very disconcerted at the pounding on the door. She always knew this day would come.

Claire begs Geillis to leave and promises to pack the house up for her. Wow. That’s a really good friend. I don’t even help people move any more, much less pack up their house.

Geillis is under the misconception that Dougal has the power to save her. She dumps the evidence of the cyanide into the fireplace and yells for Jeanie to let the wardens into the house.

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“He made me a promise. The man loves me to death,”

she says with that special Geillis smile which quickly disappears as soon as the Warden tells her she’s under arrest for witchcraft.

Claire ignores Jamie’s warning (see above) and shoots her mouth off in that special Claire way.

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“Under whose orders?”

she barks, charging across the room.

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Two witches with one stone, they arrest Claire, too. I mean . . . she’s a woman and doesn’t know her place, right?

The two sorceresses are hauled out to a paddy wagon. How far is the thieves’ hole? Isn’t it just outside? One of the mean men rips Claire’s gorgeous knitted muff from around her neck – I’m assuming as a souvenir for the wife.

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Claire peeks out through the bars and sees the only person on the street watching the arrest – Laoghaire, of course. Told her not to say “child.”

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The most important thing to note here is that Laoghaire is no innocent in the matter. She’s out for vengeance, not simple  mayhem. She’s as determined to have Jamie to herself as he is to get back to Lallybroch, Lallybroch, Lallybroch.

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Lallybroch just got a little farther away.

You’ve probably noticed (regular readers) I’ve taken a slightly different approach to my recapped reviews during the second half of this season. In my opinion there’s been much too much dependence on the novel. I’m saddened by some of the fans who have fallen away because of their dissatisfaction with the adaptation. Everyone’s entitled, but I think those are the folks who are/were unable to accept the television series and the novel as two separate works of art.

Personally, I enjoy making comparisons for the fun of it – not to be critical. Okay. I got a little critical over the RENT episode; I’ll admit. That’s why I decided no longer to reread sections of the book pertaining to the episodes before they air. I enjoyed the show during the first half of the season, and I’m enjoying the show during the second half, but I’m focusing more on the show and less on the novel. I’ll still make mentions – how can I not? – mostly because I’m curious to see where they take us.

So far, the story has stayed the same with a few exciting detours which have done nothing but strengthen and enliven the characters. In this episode the biggest surprise isn’t the arrest, but the entire story arc between Claire and Laoghaire. Laoghaire spends Ep109 trying to seduce Jamie, then spends Ep110 trying to hex Claire. Perhaps she truly believes Claire has bewitched Jamie such that he needs saving. No matter what trouble she stirs up, I’ll still not call her evil. That quality can only be applied to one character in the series who was sadly absent from this episode.

There’s been much more focus on the MacKenzies in these last two episodes than in the novel, with a definite change in Claire and Jamie’s interactions with said brothers. It’s an exciting expansion into the Outlander world. I especially love Dougal and Jamie being exiled from Leoch rather than going on a hunting trip with the Duke. It adds much more suspense and danger to Claire’s arrest.

As I stated at the beginning, there’s a certain level of balance in this episode that plays very well. It’s not only due to the writing but the editing as well. It’s a respectful send-off to Castle Leoch as we head to Lallybroch, Lallybroch, Lallybroch.

Showrunner Ron Moore‘s podcast for Episode 110: BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS is available for free on  iTunes or you can listen to it here.  He also treats us with another Inside Look at the making of this episode with particular focus on the Duke of Sandringham’s character and the magic and superstition of the 18th century.

Costume Designer Terry Dresbach posted six fabulous blogs pertaining to this episode, not to be missed: 1) Geillis & a bit of Storytelling, 2) Ep 110: The Coats, 3) Claire Fraser – A new kind of collar, 4) More Ep. 110 (Claire’s party dress), 5)  Last but not least . . . The Raven Dress, and 6) Amazing, stunning, soooooo excited! (Geillis’ woodland jacket).

Composer Bear McCreary‘s write-up for Ep110 is not yet posted but you can read about the other episodes on his website.

Mandy Tidwell provides our Gàidhlig translations again in her Episode 110 blog post.

Outlander Episode #111: THE DEVIL’S MARK premieres on Starz on Saturday, 18 April 2015 in the U.S.

For more goodies on this episode, check out Jamie’s Top 30 Looks from Outlander Episode #110: BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS

And if you missed my previous recapped review, you can read it here: A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode #109: THE RECKONING

31 thoughts on “A True Fan’s Review of #Outlander Episode 110: BY THE PRICKING OF MY THUMBS

  1. Loved the recap. By the way, the boy’s name is Tammas, not Thomas. His name was in the ending credits on episode three. It’s going to be interesting to see how the witch trial is conducted as it seems to take place inside instead of outside. Looking forward to your next review.

  2. Candida:
    Great comments. Especially concerning the adaptation vs. the book. Like you, in the past I’ve re-read the book along with the show, but now I’m just content to watch and see where Ron and the writers take us. So far I haven’t been disappointed. There was so much crammed into this episode yet I didn’t feel like anything was slighted or glossed over.
    For me this is the episode where the cast finally clicked as an ensemble. It’s so exciting to see so many of the characters developed more than they were in the books, their motives revealed and them playing off one another with such ease. The writers and especially the actors are doing a wonderful job.
    Could Simon Callow have been any more smarmy as the Duke? I Can’t wait to see him again in Season 2.
    Your analysis regarding Loaghaire is spot on (mixed messages anyone?) Same with Claire and Geillis’ encounter in the wood. It’s all about the secrets. And Jamie being exiled with Dougal IS much more powerful than him just going on a hunt. He’s gone indefinitely. And Claire knows that. You can see it on her face when she looks through the bars of the paddy wagon just before she spies Loaghaire.
    But we all know where Murtaugh is, right?
    Looking forward to next week.

    1. agree agree agree! It’s the same story, just told in a different way. Much more impactful and interesting. The books are good as books, but as a movie, I need to see some action! I just would like a teeeeeeeensy bit more interaction between jamie and claire, something funny, lighthearted… but i won’t be picky.

    2. Hey, Susan. This was a special episode for the reasons you pointed out. I’m glad you mentioned the cast “clicking.” I think that’s partially what I meant by a balanced storyline. It felt like one of the smoothest episodes yet. I had no scrunching of the nose in any of the scenes. Granted my nose scrunching is minimal on a regular basis. I did scrunch at first during Geillis fire dance scene, but then I got it as I was writing and thinking about it. Like the sex scene between Claire & Jamie in THE RECKONING, it wasn’t supposed to be romantic or sexy but raw, and it was. They were fighting for domination.

      Geillis is supposed to make Claire and us uncomfortable, and she did. It works.

      Thanks so much for your comments!

  3. Great recap! I too am enjoying what they are doing with the show vs book. I LOVED the Duke and what they did with his character in this episode. Simon Callow was wonderful! I have a question though and wonder if anyone can give me their perspective…Why do you think they presented the scene with Dougal mourning the loss of his wife in such a way? My guess is that perhaps it’s because Dougal suspects that Geillis had something to do with her demise and he’s feeling guilt over it? I just couldn’t understand why he was as upset, as he was in that scene. It’s the one scene of the episode that I couldn’t wrap my head around and sort of bugged me. Thoughts?

    1. I, too, questioned Dougal’s reaction, as I question his obedience to Colum when he is clearly a strong-minded man. Could Dougal be feeling guilt? I doubt he married Moira for love, as I’m assuming an arranged marriage. But he did neglect her for several years. As “productive” as he is, I’ve always wondered why he didn’t have any legitimate children with his wife. The guilt could stem from his neglect, leaving her alone without children, spreading his seed everywhere else, and his affair with Geillis. As I said, he has many layers and does a good job of hiding them. Loved the explosion of emotions from everyone in this episode.

      1. If memory serves, I believe he had a couple of daughters with Moira. Yes, maybe it’s just guilt at having neglected her and that she died without him having seen her before it happened. That he’s found love with Geillis. Something he could never give to his wife. I enjoy your thoughtful recaps! Thanks!

        1. I see. I’m keeping the series and books separate. No mention of children in the series made me forget he *did* have children. I do remember Claire & Jamie’s conversation near the stables around the time of the gathering, when Jamie talks about how long Dougal & Maura were married. Didn’t remember the children. Obviously, they are not crucial to the series or the book.

      2. Um…..ok…..MY thought here was he was thinking that, much as he wants Geillis, his wife shouldn’t have had to die for it to happen. She IS the mother of his children if nothing else. The shock of the sudden death with the idea maybe nagging that Geillis had something to do with it.

        The other is…..a big show so make it less suspect that he was actually in love with someone else.

  4. Great review! I also don’t get those who are continually comparing (negatively) to the book. The differences are intriguing – and sometimes aggravating – but always interesting. Love it!

    1. Thank you, Lin! It’s difficult not to compare when you’ve lived with the books for so long, but they are not changing the story – they are expanding and enhancing it. Are they taking a few liberties and detours? Sure. But they series will always go back to the book in the end. :o)

  5. This is great! I totally agree with the show being it’s own unique form separate from the books. I really like that we are seeing some new/different stuff! And thread count definitely makes a difference!

  6. I loved the books, but I am enjoying the tv series just as much.. There is only so many tv hours to cram the book into, and it has to be condensed somewhat.. and having read the books, I can relate to each scene. It’s nice to ‘ see’ the characters in person so to speak…
    As usual your musings are bang on.

    1. Hi, Gail and thanks! I must admit, this is the first episode I watched without thinking about the novel at all. Of course, I think about the differences as I’m writing and will always make small comparisons, but otherwise, I’m keeping them separate.

  7. I enjoy your recaps. I agree that the books and the TV series are separate entities, but I can’t help wonder how making Loaghaire’s actions so blatantly hostile will play out in the future.

    In the books, Claire never believe Laoghaire really knew or understood what she was doing when she lured Claire from the castle. That steadfastness was why she never told Jamie (or anyone else in the 18th century) that Loaghaire told her Geillis was ill. TV Claire knows full well of Loaghaire’s machinations, and even Jamie suspected her of leaving the ill wish under the bed. Wouldn’t Claire eventually tell Jamie that Loaghaire played a big part in her getting arrested? With that information, would Jamie ever consent to marrying the perfidious wench later?

    1. Have discussed this exact departure from the book with others. My thinking is, once Claire gets rescued which leads to her telling Jamie the truth about her origins, Laoghaire becomes inconsequential. If they are never planning to see her again, why talk about her? Thus, Jamie won’t know about Laoghaire’s treachery until Claire returns. The ill-wish is child’s play in comparison.

      1. Maybe so. I would find it difficult to believe Jamie never says, “Claire, I told you to stay away from Geillis. Why would you go to her?” and Claire wouldn’t respond with the truth about Little-Miss-Goosebump-Boobs Loaghaire.

        Note: I’m glad I found this site where others give the proper weight to all that is Outlander. My husband, while he watches the Outlander series with me, refuses to partake in my “obsession” with the story 😉 .

        1. Yes, by the time they get away with their lives and go to Craigh na Dun, everything else means nothing in comparison. My brother has watched the series with me. He’s up to book 4 but taking a break from the reading. Enjoying them though. He has a wide taste in literature and very much likes/respects Diana’s writing.

  8. Agree fully with Lisas410. One thought about Dougal’s drunken rampage scene. Even during that scene but especially after the way he was smiling at Geillis when her husband “choked to death,” I kind of believe that it was a combination of guilt and playacting (almost to an oversell extent to my way of thinking) so that people would believe he actually cared that his wife was dead.

      1. Not that I actually think either of them had anything to do with Dougal’s wife’s death (when would either of them have time and I don’t think there’s anyone they could have trusted to do it for them).

        I did want to point out two things from this episode and wondered if anyone else noticed…first, Claire didn’t just ask to be taken away from the fairy hill, she asked Jamie to take her “home.” As a person who has moved more times than I can say in the last 31 years of marriage, to me home is wherever I live with my husband (or in other words, home is my husband as Jamie stated in The Reckoning). I truly believe that while Jamie is the one who stated that, Claire is beginning to feel the same way…and second, at the end of their goodbye kiss, Claire didn’t just pull back from the kiss, she actually rubbed noses with Jamie. That whole scene was terribly sweet, sad and sexy all wrapped up together even with Dougal’s sarcasm.

        1. Yes. I like to think they didn’t *even* hear what Dougal said, as there seems to be no reaction. They are in a bubble at that moment – focused only on each other. It’s a beautiful scene.

          Good point about the “Take me home” line. I think there’s a definite connection.

  9. Oh I just love your commentary on this episode. Agree with you wholeheartedly that the books and series are stand alones that compliment each other. I would say also that the series gives us more,if that were even possible of the characters. Book 1 is told from Claire’s point of view, and the series is like looking from a different viewpoint. An outlanders view(can’t believe I said that!). Follow your posts religiously! Outlander has been my obsession throughout the yrs. nice to know I’m not the only one!

  10. You write so well, and the reviews have just the right touch of humor, which is one of the many things I love about the novels and the adaptation. I have enjoyed both of them in special ways and feel the story is not harmed with a bit more explanation. Thank your for taking the time and the effort.

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